Daryl Boettcher welcomes customers to The Salsa Guy, his store in downtown Spring Valley, where he sells 14 flavors of salsa, among other food and gift items.
Daryl Boettcher welcomes customers to The Salsa Guy, his store in downtown Spring Valley, where he sells 14 flavors of salsa, among other food and gift items.
Daryl Boettcher, also known as The Salsa Guy, is passionate about his product and it shows.

In August he opened The Salsa Guy store in downtown Spring Valley, located at 128 N. Broadway, and has been satisfying customer's salsa cravings since. Not sure about which flavor is for you? Just ask Boettcher, and he will be happy to recommend one of his spicy or sweet concoctions - often times he recommends his favorite, Sweet Heat Cranberry.

Salsa is a versatile product, noted Boettcher, "you don't have to eat it with just chips; you can cook with it too."

He has found his most popular salsas with customers are North of Hell that has "heat," Sweet Heat Cranberry and the Medium Hot Southwest Black Bean and Corn. To Hell and Back is his hottest salsa.

"Every salsa flavor holds its own," Boettcher added.

Boettcher added two salsa flavors he didn't have before for his open house event Aug. 10 and 11 in Spring Valley - Pear Picante and To Hell and Back. He is currently sold out of the latter.

He also sells soup, muffin, coffee, bread and dip mixes, rubs, spices, Italian pasta sauce, fire roasted pepper soup, and Sweet Heat Cranberry, habanero and ghost pepper sauces. Other gift items are also for sale that are made by friends of his.

Boettcher said he wanted to open a store because people were asking him about a storefront. Once he decided to pursue this adventure his realtor led him to Spring Valley and this building "felt right" to him. He purchased it before Christmas 2011, noting it was his Christmas present to himself. He joked, "A sports car would have been a lot more fun."

"It's been a lot of work," he added, noting he has done most of the work by hand.

He pulled the plaster off of the north wall to expose the brick, used muriatic acid to clean it, and finished it with a clear lacquer coat. The floor had five to six layers of tile and carpet to remove and Boettcher then refinished the original hardwood floor. He used a clear finish to retain the woods original integrity. Work on the plumbing and electric were completed and a bathroom was installed downstairs.

For the store, he decided to go with a Tuscan-look, using a "copper mountain" hue that Boettcher feels is "soft, calming and inviting."

The beginning and future

Boettcher has been making salsa as "The Salsa Guy" for four years, selling his product at area events, Rochester Farmers Market and at Thursdays on First in Rochester.

"It all started in Rochester, those people made me successful," he said.

It began when he was working for Mayo Clinic heading up the United Way Campaign Fund and he held a basket auction for a fundraiser. He made dry mixes for the baskets and also, his very first flavor of salsa, Sweet Heat Cranberry. He said he kept getting "hit up for salsa" from the people who had bought the baskets. He left Mayo Clinic five years ago and has been pursuing his love of salsa since. He began by making 18 jars and it has transpired to making 400-plus jars a week now.

Boettcher started out growing his own produce, but as his business grew, he now has vendors he buys his ingredients from and uses a commercial recipe. He said he's found there is no difference in taste from his "garden recipes" to the commercial recipes. This allows him to keep the quality and keep up with the demand for the product. The salsa is cooked in a kitchen in Rochester and Boettcher cans and labels the jars himself, with occasional help. He has taken a food handlers course.

He is currently working on installing a commercial kitchen in the back of his store to make salsa. "I love being in the kitchen. It's a piece of heaven. I like experimenting with recipes."

He is also planning on "going commercial" and having his salsa made up in the Twin Cities, hopefully by the first of the year. The jars will have barcodes on them and can be distributed to stores for sale.

Boettcher said it took awhile at first to get used to being called "The Salsa Guy" instead of his name by people. Now, over the years he has gotten used to it, noting "what a high compliment to be referred to your product."

In addition to The Salsa Guy business, he works as part of the management team at Trader Joe's in Rochester. He has been there since it opened two years ago and puts in 50-plus hours a week at the store. Due to his busy schedule, his set hours for the store will be Thursday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

"I realize these are limited," he said. "If the lights are on, knock on the door and I will be happy to help you. It's no big deal."