Pogo’s Peppers opens store with take-home meals in North Hampton NH
NORTH HAMPTON — Whereas the temperatures could also be dropping exterior, issues are about to warmth up in North Hampton.
Pogo’s Peppers is opening its personal retail spot at 122 Lafayette Highway after three-plus years of treating the Seacoast to their luxurious — and smoldering — flavors by its web site and at a handful of eating places and markets.
“This has been a very long time coming for us, and we’re actually excited concerning the alternative,” Pogo’s proprietor Matt Pongrace stated whereas surveying the house that features a kitchen, retail space, and a welcoming wrap-around porch.
“It’s a bit dry proper now, however we’re going to make it ours.”
Pongrace and his spouse and enterprise companion, Alli, have large plans for the house, formally the house of Mad Pork. Together with providing all of their sauces headlined by The OG on the retailer beginning subsequent week, the plan is to have “take and bakes” after the New Yr. This can embrace pre-made taco kits, carnitas, mac and cheese, and different entrees to take dwelling.
“Looks as if as of late, folks simply love the convenience of one thing like that,” Matt stated. “Something that makes making dinner simpler. Individuals are busy so we want to provide one thing like that.”
Come spring, Matt and Alli hope to have the store open for breakfast and lunch for takeout. Whereas native licensing doesn’t permit for eating throughout the retailer, the couple plans to have a number of tables and chairs exterior on the porch for folks to eat throughout the hotter months.
Pongrace has spent the final 12 months and a half simmering and steeping his tasty concoctions within the early morning hours within the kitchen of certainly one of his favourite native eating places, Logan’s Run, simply down the street in Hampton. Now, together with his personal kitchen at his disposal 24/7, the culinary choices are limitless for the North Hampton native and former Winnacunnet Excessive Faculty lacrosse and hockey standout.
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Making sauces has all the time been a ardour
Pongrace stated his culinary drive was fueled by a 10-plus-year stint within the Air Power after highschool.
“It took me everywhere in the world, and I received to expertise loads of nice delicacies,” Pongrace enthused, recalling his time serving as a increase operator and an in-flight refueler. “I used to be all the time looking for the nice road eats and the nice native sort locations and never the touristy sort locations. It has all the time been a ardour of mine, and I’ve been cooking ceaselessly and making sauces and salsas ceaselessly.”
Recent off his service in February 2020 and now grounded with everybody else throughout the starting of the pandemic, Pongrace tapped into that zeal and shortly was using all 4 burners on the couple’s range in Rye as he experimented with a wide selection of elements.
“I simply rinsed out a bunch of outdated sizzling sauce bottles and began bottling some up,” stated Pongrace, who’s now a lacrosse coach at Winnacunnet. “Only for one thing to do, I began dropping it off on associates’ and household’s doorsteps.”
A kind of doorsteps belonged to his highschool pal Russ Hilliard at Swell Oyster Co. in Hampton. After tasting The OG, Hilliard was fast to ask if Pongrace might give you one thing that will complement the flavour profile of his oysters, and shortly Pogo’s Peppers second staple sauce, Jalapeno Lime, was born.
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Scorching social media presence
Together with the peppers, a key ingredient in Pogo’s on-line success has been its energetic social media presence, which Alli juggles seamlessly together with a full-time job as a particular schooling instructor in Stratham, teaching within the Exeter Excessive Faculty ladies soccer program and bartending at Tj’s of Portsmouth. The couple figures they’re near racking up gross sales from all 50 states from prospects drawn in by the myriad of social media clips and footage that illustrate the array of recipes and makes use of for his or her tasty product.
“Getting that following has been big,” stated Alli, who was an all-state soccer star at Exeter and performed for UNH in school. “Whether or not it’s Instagram or TikTok, we’re reaching folks throughout the nation that we usually wouldn’t.”
With Matt within the kitchen in North Hampton, Alli will run the entrance of the home on the retailer, whereas seeking to increase the retail alternatives of the model.
“It’s the transfer we would have liked to increase,” Alli stated of the model, which could be discovered at Tj’s, Stoneface Brewing, Victoria’s Kitchen, Caffe Kilim and Swell Oyster Co. “Proper now, for our imaginative and prescient, that is what we would have liked and I am so excited.”
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How did Pogo’s Peppers get its title?
Pongrace is a third-generation Air Power member, and his total household tree is well-represented in every 4-ounce bottle he seems. His father, Joe, flew F16s for 23 years, and it was his name signal “Pogo” that impressed the title of this spicy enterprise. And his fashionable Colonel’s Mustard was not named for the “Clue” character as you would possibly count on, however relatively for his grandfather Don, who had a distinguished profession as a colonel within the Air Power and who additionally occurred to be fairly the new canine aficionado.
“He beloved his sizzling canines on Sundays after church, and he all the time had a bit mustard stain on the lapel of his jacket,” Pongrace reminisced with a smile.
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Taste ahead, with loads of warmth on the again facet
The satisfaction that Pongrace has in his three signature sauces is unmistakable, none extra so than with The OG.
“It’s the outdated guard, the unique,” stated Pongrace of the versatile sizzling sauce that may spice something up from eggs and sandwiches to Bloody Marys. “It has sort of a Caribbean profile with orange, lime, pineapple up entrance, and habanero creeps in with a bit carrot, onion, and garlic on the again facet that rounds it out.”
Whereas the Jalapeno Lime sauce was crafted for Hilliard and his burgeoning oyster farm, Pongrace notes that it has a broad seafood profile for all the things from shrimp to fish tacos. It is also complement, he stated, to breakfast sandwiches and selfmade salad dressings. All of the elements for the sauces are pure, and no synthetic preservatives are used. In truth, the one preservative present in Pogo’s merchandise is apple cider vinegar.
Whereas The OG packs a good quantity of warmth, Pongrace knew that he must up the ante if he needed to work the chili-fest and brew-fest circuit. He stated there are all the time a handful of daredevils at these occasions in search of next-level warmth, style buds be damned. Enter Jake’s Sauce, a seasonal fall providing made with the flamable Carolina Reaper pepper and devoted to his late brother, Jake.
“My brother was somebody who was insane about his warmth,” Pongrace recalled with a smile. “All of our sauces are very flavorful, and the warmth is sort of a byproduct. We prefer to get the flavour proper, after which the warmth simply comes with the territory.”
Matt and Alli hope to have the brand new store in North Hampton open Wednesdays by Saturdays, midday to six p.m., by the vacations.