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New business brings fresh tastes to Claremont

At Vom Fass, Village West’s newest shop, vinegar does catch more flies than honey.

The buzz about the opening of the German-based company, offering tastings and purchases of oil and vinegar, wine and spirits, has been steady in recent months as the Vom Fass team prepares to open the company’s third California location. Foodies will be happy to know the wait is finally over. The casks are now flowing at 101 N. Indian Hill Blvd.

Brought to Claremont by partners Kim Peeples and Denise Solis, Vom Fass takes over the spot left vacant by Wisteria Grove, now located off Arrow Highway in Claremont. Despite the change in business, however, the intention of the space remains the same. The breadth of the company may be significant, with more than 300 stores worldwide, but its relative newness to southern California provides the Claremont store with the charm of a small-town establishment. The owners hope the flavor of their business style, as well as the content of their barrels, draws in their customers as much as it did them.

It’s not hard to become hooked once the samples start flowing. Spoons and cups readily available to customers only serve to fuel the fire. But it’s an integral part of the experience the owners feel make their business stand out. They let the product speak for itself.

“If someone wants to come in and try a 22-year-old Scotch, they can just grab a sample cup and give it a try,” Ms. Peeples said. “If someone is going to invest in something like that, they are going to want to try it, and our whole system is you can try before you buy.”

Thirty-seven liquors, 28 spirits and over 60 oils and vinegars line the shelves of the shop, adding splashes of color to the interior and beckoning in curious customers. Equally eye grabbing is the parade of empty glass bottles, some short and circular, others long and lean. Once a patron chooses a product, they may pick a bottle according to size and preference. Oils and vinegars are sold in a range of sizes, from 50 milliliters to one liter.

The abundance of choices is immediately both exciting and daunting. Oils and vinegars range from pumpkin seed oil, Bear’s Garlic and strawberry to flaxseed, argon and chili. Colorful liquors include apple pie, latte macchiato, sour cherry vodka and “the mysterious green lady,” Absinthe.

But for those overwhelmed by the overflowing oil and vinegar options, employees are at the ready to suggest a few of their favorite combos or point to a gift basket, themed to suit different palates and cuisines.  The Vom Fass website also offers recipe ideas for those wondering how to incorporate the more zany options.

A self-proclaimed foodie, Ms. Peeples is relishing her role as the owner of a ‘unique’ culinary experience while also fulfilling a calling. Ms. Peeples is no stranger to the food industry. For years she worked alongside her dad in establishing a family-owned yogurt shop in the South. She returned to school to get an accounting degree in hopes of further building her family’s business, but as she describes it, “corporate America sucked me in.”

Years later, and halfway across the country, Ms. Peeples and her partner are returning to her roots. “I said to myself, ‘this is the year I’m going to do something big,” Ms. Peeples’ recalled.

She held herself to that promise, and to the due diligence researching what she considered one-of-a-kind franchises. It was a franchise broker who initially suggested Vom Fass. The couple had never heard of the company, but it didn’t take much convincing for them to latch on to the concept. One visit to the company’s Westlake Village store and it was all over.

“The minute I tasted the star date vinegar with lemon oil combo I knew we had to buy this [franchise],” she said. “I knew we had to bring this to Claremont.”

Although they are Rancho Cucamonga residents, it was never really a question that the couple would be setting up shop in Claremont, what they consider their home away from home.

“There are a lot of foodies in Claremont, so many people that are interested in trying new things,” she said. “It was a natural fit.”

True to form, however, Ms. Peeples’ admits she sat in front of the store for two weeks straight making sure the traffic was just right. It more than fulfilled her expectations.

Adding to what she feels is a prime location is the support she has received from other Village West business. She already has plans to host cooking demonstrations and tastings with some of her fellow First Street entrepreneurs. 

“We are all here to help each other out,” she said. “It’s like a little family.”

Ms. Peeples’ hopes her store is more than just a retail outlet, but a community gathering place. To help set the tone, plans are in place to host Scotch classes, wine pairings and other interactive events. The couple is also preparing for a grand opening celebration, to take place Saturday, November 2 from 3 to 6 p.m. and Sunday, November 3 at the Farmer’s Market. Brian Boitano, US Olympic figure skater-turned-chef, will be at the store on Saturday selling and signing copies of his latest cookbook. The first 50 customers will receive their signed copy for free.

Vom Fass Claremont is located 101 N. Indian Hill Drive, Ste. C2-100, just west of Chico’s on First Street. For more information, visit www.VomFassClaremont.com.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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