16307 N Florida Ave
Lutz, FL 33549
Thank you for visiting Quality Foods. It's been an interesting journey getting here, and a far cry from where we thought we would be.
My name is Chris, who along with my wife Emily and our daughter Madeleine, own and operate Quality Foods. It all started as a hobby.
I didn't realize it as a child, but growing up in Kentucky, where my grandparents had a large farm, there was no shortage of home-made
everything, with fresh garden picked produce half the year, and canned from the garden delights the other half. Add in farm fresh eggs,
milk, pork, beef, and chicken...and a smokehouse right on the farm as well for curing and smoking, the grocery store was really just there
to supplement things not available on the farm. Food was more than just sustenance, it was a part of life. Meals were meant as family time, with three hearty meals a day on the farm.
Here at the Lake Chapman Plaza, we found such a place. On the north end of the plaza is an empty lot, with plenty of parking...perfect for our needs. We inquired about a short term lease to see if a market would stick in the area, and before we knew it, we were being shown a space inside the plaza itself. Once we ran some numbers on having our own commercial kitchen versus leasing one on an hourly basis, along with the fact we could expand with beer and wine, and offer seating as well, we decided we would lease both.
The empty space is now the Lutz Hub, where we host outdoor events such as our farmer's market and annual events like Craftoberfest, and our indoor space, Quality Foods Gourmet Market, is home to our deli and pizzeria, bakery, and specialty grocery with fine wine, Florida craft beer, and a selection of house-made and artisan foods, including many local makers as well.
We are very proud of what have build, but it has been challenging. We make nearly everything we can from scratch, just the way my mother and grandmother did while I was growing up. We source local produce and ingredients and much as possible, and for things we cannot source locally, we seek only the highest quality domestic and imported meats, poultry, and other ingredients. We seek out products that are antibiotic and hormone free, organic, non GMO, with an emphasis on truly all natural ingredients with only natural preservatives, if any at all, and our imports are certified by the exporting country to ensure quality and consistency.
As your hosts, Emily and I welcome you to stop by and meet us any time. We love giving new customers a quick tour, offering samples, and of course, providing foods that we know you'll rave about.
It comes as no surprise to anyone that knows me, that food is my passion. While in high school, I trained for two years with a chef, learning classic Italian cuisine. My career path and education took me elsewhere, but that training, combined with the years of food experiences from the farm, has always motivated me to be the one to offer to cook Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or to volunteer to do the heavy cooking at a family gathering.
Fast foward to January 2016. We were having some friends and family over for Madeleine's first birthday. Like I tend to do, I wanted to handle all of the food myself, putting together a basic BBQ spread, including making four sauces from scratch. It was those sauces that put us on the path to Quality Foods. Nearly everyone that day inquired about a sauce...where could they get it? What brand was it? People were genuinely interested. Enough so that Emily and I sat down afterwards and talked about how maybe it would be fun to get out on a Saturday and sell some home-made things at a local Farmer's Market.
So that's what we did. I really wanted to do hot sauces, marinades, pasta sauce. My list kept growing. Only as my list grew, so did the requirements that came with it. Insurance. FDA certification by taking a class on food preservation at UC Davis. Leasing a commerical kitchen. Lab testing for our foods with FDA letters from NC State. And finally licensing by the Department of Agriculture. It was quite a lot for a hobby, but by fall of 2016, we were ready to go, and booked our first market, the Temple Terrace Farmer's Market. And for those who aren't aware of this gem, it runs year round and is one of the very few markets that are 100% local.
We had one table at that market. It was cold out. We had a just a few items...some bottled sauces, a marinade, some homemade spice blends and a few herbs from our garden. As a few weeks rolled on, we added more items...some fresh made salsas, smoked cheese, pesto, and more. Then we rolled out fresh baked Bavairan style pretzels and everyone's favorite, wood fired flatbreads. Our single table grew to three in just two months, and our single farmer's market gig grew to over 300 booked markets and events from January to June 2017. By the end of that first market season, we were exhausted, and decided to re-evaluate our "hobby."
At first we thought we'd simply scale back to something more manageable. But the more we talked about it, the more we realized how hard it was doing markets and events where we had to make foods and travel, all with a toddler in tow. Instead, we decided to see if we could find a place in Lutz to host our own farmer's market, where we could put the majority of our focus...a place where we could build an audience and help other local markers find one as well.
"Life is too short not to indulge your appetite today at Quality Foods..."