Business Person of the Month: Anne MilneckApril 2, 2014
Monday through Friday, 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
– Julia Child
Red Stick Spice Company gives its customers the personal attention they expect and deserve and offers products ranging from spices to blends and rubs, from olive oils and vinegars to high-quality loose tea. They sell the best spice blends from local chefs, award-winning grill masters, regional farmers, and they even blend some of their own. Red Stick Spice Company captures the delicious, unique flavors of our region. “Food is our passion,” says owner Anne Milneck. “In South Louisiana, we’re lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of bountiful produce and fresh seafood, and it’s important that it’s seasoned to perfection.”
Milneck is originally from LaPlace, Louisiana, and has made Baton Rouge her home for more than 20 years. She studied journalism at LSU and earned a culinary degree from the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University in 2010. While her children were still at home, Anne launched a small catering business called “Lunch Lady” that specialized in gourmet boxed lunches. When the opportunity arose to purchase the Red Stick Spice Co., it was a no-brainer. “I’m a trained chef, but working in a restaurant wasn’t a good fit for my family. I work around the things I love (food) but in a less stressful environment.”
Red Stick Spice Company already had a reputation for offering a variety of high-quality spices, teas, oils, and vinegars. Anne says one of the most appealing features of the store is its ability to provide the exact amount of spice that a customer wants. And she’ll let you taste it, too. To ensure the freshness and quality of the products she sells, she doesn’t keep large amounts in stock. For the most part, what you see on the shelf is what is available.
Since buying the store, Milneck has added more spice mixes, including a few she combines on-site. Her Bayou Lafourche blend combines bay leaf and filé along with salt, garlic, granulated onion, and other dry spices. She also prepares classic French herb blends, herbes de Provence, bouquets garnis and fines herbes. She has increased the number of chili offerings for fans of spicy food, and she has a revolving list of barbecue rubs that complement seasonal foods. Anne is also looking to add more organic spice offerings as they come available. The store also stocks award-winning loose teas along with 15 new varieties.
Red Stick Spice Company sells infused olive oils from small family farms in California, including garlic and jalapeno. The herb or vegetable is pressed in the same press as the olives, resulting in a deeper and richer flavor than simply letting a garlic clove float around in a bottle. “The difference between olive oil here and olive oil from a grocery store is huge. A lot of olive oils are actually oil blends, not 100 percent olive.” The store also carries extra virgin olive oils, flavored oils, and avocado oil.
Anne sees small business as the key to securing the lost art of close, personal attention while shopping. “My business doesn’t move at warp speed nor is high volume a priority. For every customer to receive the attention they need, it takes time. We spend that time with each customer. Small businesses also play a role in helping each other. We recommend other small business to our customers – and other small businesses do the same. In this way, we create a supportive web encouraging customers to shop local.” Milneck would love to see more movement of small business into Mid-City and Downtown. “Those are areas that I’d love to see grow into communities where residents can shop, eat, and play without leaving their neighborhood and I would love to be a part of that.”
For Anne, it’s important that owners participate in every aspect of the business – sales, purchasing, stocking, and even janitorial work. “When you’re willing to do any task, you learn more about your business – and it shows. Customers can tell if you’re fully committed. One challenge Milneck encountered was finding the right people to work in the store. However, she now has a great group of people who love working with customers. Helping customers make the most of their purchases and their time in the kitchen is Anne’s main goal. For Anne, cooking represents happiness and family and comfort and joy. She wants everyone to feel the same way when they step up to the stove.