Hot Shop Review: Pepper Palace
Pepper= Any of several plants of the genus Piper, as cubeb, betel, and kava. Any of several tropical, American, cultivated forms of Capsicum frutescens or C. annuum, having podlike, many-seeded, variously colored berries.
The podlike fruit of any of these plants, varying in size, shape, and degree of pungency, with the milder types including the bell pepper and pimiento, and the more pungent types including the cherry pepper.
Palace= The official residence of a royal personage. A large, often gaudily ornate building used for entertainment or exhibitions.
Upon entering the gates of the Pepper Palace you quickly realize “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto” It takes a long thirty seconds or so before your eyes stop scanning as much as they can as fast as they can before your instincts take you directly toward what you love the most- Oh you can try and fool yourself to “Play it Cool”. You know, save the “Best for Last” by going for the OK stuff first, but man the draw of those long walls of Hot Sauce is just to strong. Fight it all you want, but it’s all in vein- it’s like a magnet pulling on you. Soon find yourself side stepping slowly from one end of it to the other talking to yourself, mumbling the names, and laughing at the labels. Yeah people around you may snicker and stare, but a couple of people away there’s a guy or two doing the same thing. Then one of the Pepper Palace folks comes up, offers you a sample of something tasty, and strikes up a conversation about one of the sauces in front of you. That’s about when it hits you, you’re in a quadily ornate place of hot peppered entertainment and spicy food exhibitions surrounded by hot sauce royalty, a little slice of heaven baby!
With humble beginnings in 1987 owners Craig and Tanya Migawa opened “Hots Pepper Pod” in a mall in central Wisconsin, by 1992 this HOT couple opened two additional stores in the same Wisconson region calling them “Pepper Palace”. In 1995 the decision was made to close the Wisconson stores and the Migawa’s and the Pepper Palace headed to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Making a home in the Mountain Mall at traffic light #6 right in the heart of Downtown Gatlinburg and have been making Chiliheads, Gourmets, Pepperheads, BBQ’rs, Hott-a-holics, etc…very very happy ever since.
As I wandered the aisles and peeked in every nook and cranny, I noticed many pictures adorning the walls of said royalty- the Big Leaguers if you will. There is a great one of CaJohn watching in amazement The Flameboyant Chef on fire at a Chili Cook-off last year. The Pepperpalace.com has some great additional pictures as well under “Hot Events”. Also they are “Putting the finishing touches on our Newest Concept” and will have a new website roll out in September to replace the old one so keep your eyes peeled.
Free bottle of Nasal NapalmSpeaking of websites, Craig and his team have offered exclusively to us the HSB, anyone who types in “Hot Sauce Blog” on the “where did you hear about us” section of the web order form will receive a FREE bottle of their newest product “Nasal Napalm” (The Most Powerful Horseradish On The Planet) with an order of $25.00 or more. Nasal Napalm will retail for $9.95 and will become available on 7/20/2006. “I will gladly sign the HSB bottles!”….Craig.
With over 70 FEET of samples, there is so much to choose from someone (like me) could spend hours in there and possibly lapse into an endorphin induced comma, happily and quite contently. The Pepper Palace is self proclaimed to have been built brick by brick on customer service and I saw it first hand. We spoke with both Ronda Vaughan and Patrick Bradford, and both were outstanding in helping us find what we were looking for, fed us sample after sample after sample, and just made us feel welcome and appreciated. It was honestly very nice, they are great/Knowledgeable folks and we are so glad we met them.
Pepper Palace Team
Owners – Craig & Tanya Migawa ( Since the Beginning )
Manager – Tom Curtis ( 8 years )
Asst. Manager – Jeanette Curtis ( 5 years )
Warehouse Supervisor – Patrick Bradford ( 2 years )
Sales Manager – Ronda Vaughan ( 1 year )
Sales People – Elaine, Pete, & Youlanda
Just a great time had by all! You can see the intensity in Craig’s eyes when he talks about what he has accomplished and what he does. And I had a chance to see his sadistic side, I got the opportunity to sample the “Nasal Napalm” and my eyes are still watering almost a week later. Craig’s eyes got to just about the size of dessert plates when I took a pretty small spoon full, yes I wimped out, he and Patrick had me so freaked with their continued “it still hurts” and “it’s gonna burn all the way down” jeers I backed off some. Go ahead you can say it- Pansy! Let me tell you, it packs a punch but it’s good stuff and I enjoyed it.
1 Established Hot Sauce Palace + 9 Knowledgeable Friendly Palace Servants + A Flippen’ Buttload of Hot Sauce is ROYALLY PRICELESS!!
Mountain Mall Suite D-10
Gatlinburg, TN 37738