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Penzey's in Rockville

I can't believe no one has posted this yet! Last night I got a postcard from Penzey's saying that their new store in Rockville will be opening "soon." I don't have the card with me so I can't provide any further info, but surely others will have received one, too.

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  1. What took them so long???

    1. Yes, I got one, too! Looking for employees. It's an address on the Pike. I can't find the postcard now either and I can't find anything about it on their website.

      1. Penzey's website notes two new stores opening in the D.C. area in the spring, one in Rockville, MD at 1048 Rockville Pike and one in Falls Church, VA at 513 Broad.

        1. I'm dying to try out a store...does anyone know when the opening will be?

          1 Reply
          1. re: caphill2320

            If it's like the Pittsburgh store, you'll love it. Items are rarely out of stock; you can sniff samples of just about everything (hmmm... tellicherry or malabar?); you can see the various container sizes and determine which is best for your needs. Staff is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Downside: REALLY easy to go impulse crazy.

          2. The Rockville location is in the same shopping plaza as Sam Woo. No signs up yet, paper on all the windows.

            They announced it I think 6 months ago, but I haven't heard anything in a while.

            1. Where is the shopping center with Sam Woo? I am not familiar with that store.

              1. Lucky you... Anne Arundel County isn't "local" enough to Rockville for Penzey's to send a postcard. If only they knew how many of us make a quarterly visit to the Philly Penzey's, they'd realize that we'll gladly drive half that distance to the Rockville store.

                I knew it was coming (read about it in their catalog and then the One magazine) but didn't know when. When they finally say a date, please let us know!

                1. I've been told by the Penzey's folks that the tentative opening is April 13th.

                  1. What's a Penzey's? Why the excitement?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MikeR

                      They sell very high quality dried herbs and spices. I buy most spices from them [check their web site] although I also like Morton & Basset from SF.

                      1. re: Dakota Guy

                        Thanks for the info. I might poke around in the Falls Church shop if, when, and where it opens but that isn't something I'd go to Rockville for. I'm kind of a McCormick cook myself.

                        1. re: MikeR

                          I've used Penzey's for a while now.........well over 10 years (I'm from the upper Midwest) and will never, ever use McCormick again. I find them way overpriced and absolutely never fresh. Penzey's has a high turnover of spices and almost guaranteed to be fresh. Penzey's has a lot of spice mixtures and they do try to control the amount of salt in their mixes. Whereas McCormick's has some of *the* saltiest mixes around (i.e. while montreal steak seasoning is fairly tasty, I can't use it because of my reactions to high salt content - swelling hands, etc). Just my 2 cents.

                    2. Mon-Fri 5:30??? Sat till 5? They don't know the DC area very well do they? I can never be anywhere after work before 5:30. I hope they stay open later!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: xnyorkr

                        all of their stores have similar hours because they promote a "family friendly" work environment.
                        I believe, if memory serves me, they were actually closed on Sundays at the original Pittsburgh location (but I could be wrong).

                        1. re: Jeserf

                          Family friendly? The DC area has the highest percentage of two-earner households in the nation. Our "families" are going to be at work during their operating hours.

                          What shopping center are they going to be in? Are they going to open this April? I just wonder if all the stores around them don't close until 9, are they still going to close at 7?

                          1. re: xnyorkr

                            Hey, I didn't set the policy. This is what I was told when I questioned their hours at the Pittsburgh store.
                            I believe the "family friendly" thing would be for their employees, not for the customers.

                            1. re: Jeserf

                              Sorry, that was not directed at you. It was my frustration wtih their misguided policy, probably because it won't be easy for me to get to their store during their set hours.

                              1. re: xnyorkr

                                I, too, have been frustrated by the Penzey's limited hours. I can't get to their St. Louis store very often. Essentially only when I have a day off work: the day after Thanksgiving, Dr. MLK BDay, and President's Day. I don't shop on Sats.
                                However, they are now advertising for employees to work on Sundays. Perhaps requests to the store, once it is open, will encourage Penzey's to instigate Sunday hours.
                                Good luck. Shopping at Penzey's is a lot of fun.

                      2. What Metro stops are those locations?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MakingSense

                          The closest metro stop to the rockville location is the rockville metro stop (penultimate of the red line in the direction of shady grove). it would be a bit of a walk (on 355, no less), but it certainly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

                        2. I visited the Norwalk, Connecticut, outlet of Penzey's when I was back home visiting family, and I was pretty unimpressed. The store seemed pretty rinky-dink, and there was pretty much no style to the place. Just wooden tables and crates with jars and bags of spices, and I didn't see anything I couldn't order through their website or catalog. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for instant gratification, but I just can't really get too juiced up for these grand openings, especially with the counter-intuitive hours of operation and the hassle of driving across town. I'll stick to using mail-order.

                          1. I see from their website that they carry an enormous variety of dried spices. But since I have never tried their products, someone please explain to me:
                            1. Is the quality higher or prices lower or spices fresher than say, McCormick's?
                            2. When doing ethnic cooking, is it better to buy at a corresponding ethnic store or at Penzey's?

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: foodcheck

                              I can tell you that usually, Penzey's gets high ratings from Cooks Illustrated in their taste tests, but they scored pretty poorly when their curry powder was compared to other brands. (If I recall, their favorite was a variety you can purchase in the huge discount warehouse stores, and the size of the curry powder container would last most households a good 20 years, at least.)

                              1. re: davefaris

                                Interesting--I really like their hot curry powder (don't think I've tried the others).

                                1. re: davefaris

                                  I'm a huge fan of Penzey's, but I'm not crazy about most of their curry powders. I either make my own or use their garam masala, which is pretty good.

                                2. re: foodcheck

                                  Fresher and cheaper than McCormick's? Well, that would depend in part on how quickly the store stocking the McCormicks can move it, but generally Penzey's is going to be better both as to quality and price.
                                  My experience with spices bought at ethnic stores is that they often don't get anough traffic to keep the spices fresh. Also, in many cases they are acquired in bulk and kept in open containers, rather than sealed, causing the flavors to dissipate.
                                  I like Penzey's a lot, mainly because of better freshness and price, but also because many of the spices come in more than one variety or grind. The one category I do fault the chain for are their spice blends, which seem formulated to appeal to cooks who don't want to work too hard--the flavors often don't seem to match their names. But, hell, you can make your own curry powder of the individual spices you can buy there.

                                  I do prefer the store to the Internet, notwithstanding the convenience of the latter. At the store you can actually smell the spices and better assess the size container you need and the coarseness (in some cases) of various grinds. I don't eat my food via the Internet and, unless there's no option, I don't buy food that way either. But then, I buy books from a bookstore rather than amazon.

                                  1. re: foodcheck

                                    From a search on the Cooks Illustrated website, I came up with the following recommendations for Penzeys...

                                    In January, 2005, they named Penzey's as a "best buy" for India Ground Cumin Seed.

                                    In November, 2003, they named Penzeys Madagascar vanilla beans as a close second place. They described them as "smooth," "sweet," and "rich."

                                    In March, 2002, they declared that Penzeys Hungarian Sweet emerged as the favorite, praised for its "roasty," "bold," and "balanced" flavor.

                                    In November, 1998, the tasting lab said that "Penzeys Chinese cassia (cinnamon), was anything but meek, secured the top ranking as excellent overall."

                                    This past January, they listed Penzeys Punjabi Style Garam Masala spice mix as "recommended," saying "This spice giant expertly combined the basic coriander-cardamom-cinnamon-pepper combination with a few exotic additions that tasters found 'warm,' 'floral,' and 'tangy.'" Though they recommended another brand a little more favorably.

                                    Lastly, when they compared different chili powders for a "web exclusive" entry on their website, they said "Penzeys finished last, with a 'flat,' 'bland" flavor.'"

                                    So, I guess like anything, Penzeys doesn't do everything right, at least according to Cooks Illustrated.

                                  2. Swung by the Rockville location yesterday. An April opening would be very optimistic. They have brown paper up on the front windows, and from peeking around the paper, they seem to have a LOT of interior work left to do.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: DanielK

                                      it's not as if their stores require that much work, though.

                                      It can be done - the last weeks of putting a store together flies by. I worked opening up a Pier 1 in grad school, and I was impressed with how fast it really is.

                                      1. re: DanielK

                                        Where is the store going to be? I know it's in the "shopping center with Sam Woo" but I don't know where that is. Is it near mid-Pike plaza, or Congressional? Thanks

                                        1. re: xnyorkr

                                          It's immediately south of the intersection of Edmonston and 355 on the east side of the street, near revolution cycles. I think somebody posted the address above--you can always try mapquest.

                                          1. re: xnyorkr

                                            A little north of the Best Buy, kind of catty-corner from Wintergreen.

                                        2. I just received my Spring 2007 catalog, and it does not mention either of the two "opening soon" stores in the D.C. area. So does anybody have proof that these will open?

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: ABERK

                                            Two stores? I thought it was just one in Rockville. I looked at their "help wanted" web page, and they say they need to staff up the Rockville store quickly. Where is the other store to be?

                                            1. re: xnyorkr

                                              Falls Church. On West Broad St. near the Burger King.

                                              1. re: Gonzocook

                                                OMG Yayyy! But how on earth did they pick that particular location??? When is it scheduled to open?

                                                1. re: xnyorkr

                                                  Probably best to contact them directly. They're very friendly and will have the most accurate information.

                                          2. Penzeys will be opening a store on 1048 Rockville Pike mid-April, and 513 W. Broad Street, Falls Church mid-may (I called their job openings line). I asked what hours they will be open. She said "M-S 10-6, and, wait just one minute.....Ok, Sunday 11-5; in most cities we let employees be home with their families on Sundays." Very employee-supportive operation!

                                            1. My friend just interviewed with Penzey's for a job in the Rockville location -- their target opening date as of yesterday is April 18th. From looking at the space I see from the outside, it won't be a tiny little hole in the wall. I am mostly looking forward to buying peppercorns without having to pay for shipping!