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Tabora Farms Eyes Thursday Opening in Lansdale

Tabora Farms is a winery, bakery, spice shop, homemade ice cream parlor, lounge and Brig O'Doon coffeehouse all under one roof in Lansdale

If you want to grab an inexpensive coffee and snack before you get on the train at Lansdale, then Tabora Farms is for you.

If you want to grab some spices for your tea and cupboard, buy a coffee and sit down and read your emails, get a scoop of ice cream, buy some pastries and choose a select bottle of pinot, then Tabora Farms is for you too.

The Hilltown Township farm and orchard is poised to open a second location on West Main Street in Lansdale, adjacent to in the former Lewis Paints building, at 7 a.m. Thursday.

Owner Caleb Torrice is excited for his new location: It has been well-received by the borough and he wants to hit the commuter traffic from the SEPTA lines.

The interior has been refurbished, complete with wood floors and original wood from 1761 imported from the barn at Tabora Farms in Hilltown.

Torrice has owned the Tabora Farms location in Bucks County for four of its 24-year history. It made $1.4 million in sales in 2011.

The farm market business is in his blood: His parents own the 200-acre Fruit Valley Orchard in Oswego, NY. Torrice himself ran a market in metro New York for years before coming to Bucks County, the native area of his wife, Patricia.

"I couldn't take the rat race," Torrice said. "I decided to look for a place that was a happy medium between country and city. Lansdale fit the bill."

Tabora Farms is also very well known to Lansdale Farmers' Market shoppers. 

"Every Saturday at the Lansdale Farmers' Market, 1,200 customers say hi to us and buy our products. If I can open a location where I can have 1,200 loyal customers, it seems like a no brainer to me," Torrice said.

Imagine an old-time general store meets a gourmet bistro meets a farm market, and you've got the new Tabora Farms store. 

To say the new Tabora Farms will have it all and be a one-stop shop seems like an understatement. There will be at least six departments or areas inside the 2,700-square-foot location.

Lounge

A lounge area will greet visitors when they enter from West Main Street, complete with leather couches and slate end tables. The entire store will be piped with Sonos Stereo.

"It will be a relaxing environment. There will be a lounge feel compared to the studious feel in other places," he said.

Spice Shop

In the front left corner of the market, longtime Lansdale residents will find something familiar to them - a spice shop.

This area features 350 jars of spices: 100 signature spices, 150 teas, 60 blends, 30 sea salts and a mishmash of other flavors.

Teas include pomegranate oolong tea, brazilian fruit tea, leaves of provence tea and hot cinnamon spice. 

Spices include dried portabella, woodear mushrooms, sumac, dill weed, vanilla powder and habanero ice cream sprinkles, to name a few.

"Spices for cooking, serving with food and baking spices," Torrice said.

All spices are drop-shipped from the port, Torrice said.

"All spices are direct import. They are sent to us as soon as they get off the boat. They are not warehoused," Torrice said. "Compare that to a grocery store where spices sit for six months before they hit the shelf."

All spices will be available in pre-packaged one-ounce containers, or, if you prefer, you can scoop your own from the jars.

"You can get a half-ounce, tablespoon or six pounds," Torrice said. "Any quantity you want."

And the price of spice varies at Tabora Farms. Organic teas run about $4.24 an ounce and the least expensive spices are $1.99 an ounce. One ounce of tea makes 10 cups.

Jams & Jellies and Breads & Snacks

The checkout counter at Tabora serves as a food counter too. Here, shoppers can find various jams and jellies.

"We used to make our own, but it turned into a full-time gig," Torrice said. "We hooked up with a company in New Jersey. They make it for us using our recipe."

The food counter will also be the spot for on-the-go SEPTA commuters to grab pre-packaged goods like dried fruits, nuts and candies.

Behind the counter, Tabora will display its plethora of 11 different baked breads, shipped in daily from its Hilltown location.

Bakery

Turn around from the counter and you will find Tabora's puffed pastries, cookies and stuffed rolls.

"The only thing we import are cannoli shells. Everything else is made ourselves. We have 100 different items," Torrice said.

Tabora Farms' Lansdale location has its own on-site small bakery too.

"We can handle 10 to 15 percent of our product," Torrice said. "The rest is shipped in every morning."

In the future, Torrice wants to convert the entire full basement into a full-fledged bakery.

"The key is fresh baked," he said. "You do not want to pull it out of a cardboard box in a freezer."

Torrice said Tabora Farms uses the freshest ingredients. Organic, he said, is tough to do with bakery items. However, they do bake gluten-free products, although it's not a major aspect of what they do.

The on-site bakery is cordoned off in a small room, and passersby can see the mixer mixing through the window. You can also see the bakers at work from a window inside the store.

The bakery features two Unox Italian ovens, where bakers can control the humidity to the degree.

"We can get to 350 degrees in under a minute-and-a-half," Torrice said. "The ovens also have a self-contained exhaust."

Homemade Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, Torrice hopes people will scream for Tabora ice cream.

"We make our own ice cream," he said. "We will be serving from dipping cases and have pints to go. We'll also do banana splits and all that other stuff."

Come July 10, Tabora Farms will have a walk-in freezer and three-door refrigerator for customers. 

"We will bring in frozen pot pies, mac and cheese, down under pies, pulled pork, chili pies and frozen soups," said manager Kate Greiser.

The fridge will have beverages, sandwiches and side salads too. 

"When they're gone, they're gone," said Torrice. "We will not carry them for more than a day."

A separate fridge will have cakes, cannolis, cream puffs and lemon squares.

Winery

If there's one thing Tabora Farms and Orchard is known for, it's their own wine.

The Lansdale location will have its own winery and tasting room.

Torrice said one needs to be a Pennsylvania resident for five years to make his or her own wine.

So, Torrice's parents send fruit from their farm in New York to Hilltown. Torrice takes the fruit to Peace Valley Winery where it is processed into wine. Peace Valley Winery can legally bottle and label the wine there for Torrice to sell it.

Tabora Farms will have 10 wines available when it opens Thursday:

  • Cabernet sauvignon
  • Dry chardonnay
  • Riesling
  • Steuben
  • Sweet cherry
  • Montmorency cherry
  • Pear wine
  • Plum wine
  • Concord
  • Niagara

Torrice also has three other wines fermenting over the past year that will be available in two weeks: pinot, chambourcin and apple fiji.

All transactions and tastings, by law, have to occcur in the separate wine room.

Brig O'Doon Coffee

If you want iced or hot coffee and other beverages, look no further than Brig O'Doon.

The Ottsville company is subletted inside Tabora Farms and owned by Patrick and Kimberly Mullaney.

"We were talking about it for a couple of years and Caleb asked us about (opening)," said Patrick. "Both my wife and I like Caleb and his wife. We did things on a handshake and figured it out as we went."

Brig O'Doon specializes in 25 blends of teas and coffees and offers between eight and 10 brews a day.

"Anybody can make coffee," Torrice said, "but these guys are scientists."

Brig O'Doon does roasted-to-order coffee.

"We keep track of how many weeks out the coffee is roasted," Mullaney said.

He said he is humbled to get an opportunity to open inside Tabora Farms.

"I think we'll do fine," Mullaney said. "We believe in the personal side of things. We'll be asking for a lot of names. We want to get to know people."

Attracting the People

Another bistro seating area will be located at the rear of the store, where the rear entrance off Madison Street is ready to welcome SEPTA commuters.

"We fought hard for this spot. We waited 10 months," said Torrice. "We counted 800 people passing by here on a Friday. I said, 'We need a back door to this place.'"

Torrice said the people of Lansdale - both residents and government officials - are excited to see what Tabora Farms can bring to the town.

"Lansdale has been very good to us," Torrice said. "From our first farmers' market to now, there are no complaints."

Aside from expanding the bakery to the basement, Torrice wants to work with the borough in implementing a seating area outside at Railroad Plaza. This change would require removal of trees and bushes and a retaining wall next to the alleyway.

"I want peopel to come here and relax and get good quality stuff before they hop on the train or go to work," Torrice said. "When people walk into our barn, we want them to feel they are somewhere where their grandmother walked in. We wanted to bring in as much of that here as we could."

Tabora Farms opens at 7 a.m. Thursday. It is located at 209 W. Main St. in Lansdale.

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