Newspaper Article Archive of
Last month, Ken and Cheryl Miller returned from a successful trip to the state’s capitol with a few new stores under the umbrella of Cheryl’s Fresh Salsa.
They have just expanded in to three more stores in Des Moines, and will soon be available at Price Choppers.
“We kind of dread going to do it, just because you’re standing there for three or four hours at a time, but the things people have to say about it was just awesome,” Cheryl said about getting out and selling their product.
One such person was a young girl who approached their sampling table, reluctant to try due to her dislike of tomatoes. After some convincing, she took a chip and some of their popular mild salsa and gave it a shot. She loved it.
“It’s just so much fun, being able to see their faces and what they have to say about it. The feedback is awesome,” Cheryl said.
Cheryl’s salsa has now expanded to every store in Iowa City, all of Cedar Rapids, scattered in a couple stores in the Cedar Rapids/Waterloo region, Wellman, Kalona, Washington, Fairfield, Ames,
Despite the expansion, which is slow and steady, just the way they like it. This way they will have been able to keep up with the demand, while providing the quality their customers expect.
“We make it fresh every week. It has a 30-day shelf life and you have to send it out to the lab to get tested to get that 30-day shelf life,” Cheryl said.
Being able to keep up with the demand as they’ve slowly expanded is simply a product of becoming more streamlined with experience, now that they have been operating for a decade. Cheryl says they can make a gallon of salsa as quick as a minute, although she doubts the pace would be sustainable over a period of time.
They make salsa one day a week, queso another, and take a few hours a week to clean the station. The rest of the time is taken selling their product and doing all the necessary prep work to crank out their salsa, which comes in eight flavors, not counting the queso.
The newest of these is their fire-roasted salsa they launched a couple years back. The salsa uses the titular fire-roasted tomatoes to give it a bit of a grilled taste and is a more medium salsa.
When asked about how she incorporates her product into her cooking, Cheryl Miller admitted she mostly uses it for pretty standard fare, but did throw out one intriguing use.
“I put salsa in my chili,” she said. “Then you’re not dicing up all those onions and all the spices.
“Years ago, I could never get my chili to get much flavor. It was always kind of blah. I started to put the salsa in there and it was so much better.”
Apart from that though, she sticks to a more traditional use, like for serving chips and salsa and she also incorporates it when making guacamole.
Every once in a while, they get suggestions for new items that they knock around and consider, like a bean dip or making two different heat levels of salsa, but Cheryl says she’s happy right where they’re at.
The reluctance to come out with an additional queso is due to the time commitment it takes to produce it, compared to the salsa.
“When we make salsa, we do not have to cook our salsa. It’s a refrigerated product,” she said. “When you make queso, you have to melt the cheese, and stir it …it takes a lot longer.”
Overall, Cheryl Miller painted a picture of someone at ease with where her operation is at, content with converting with growing their believers one chip at a time.