A Hidden Gem: Step back in time at The Spicery | Phoenix.org
A Hidden Gem: Step back in time at The Spicery

A Hidden Gem: Step back in time at The Spicery

Photo by Pablo Robles

By Claire Spinner | July 18, 2021

The Spicery in Our 1895 Home in Glendale is a hidden gem.

Set inside a residential home in the Catlin Court Historic District, The Spicery is a step back in time.

“It’s like going to your grandma’s house, if your grandma was a good cook, of course,” says owner Matt Borowski.

The quaint restaurant’s charm stems from its authenticity. The afternoon lunch and tea restaurant in one of Glendale’s oldest buildings has allowed patrons to relive their childhood since the 1980s.

The retrofitted home, purchased in 1986 by Martha Campbell, was opened as The Spicery in Our 1895 Home in 1987.

After being resold in 2002, Campbell missed running The Spicery and repurchased the restaurant in 2010. She ran the restaurant for two years until, after turning 82, she retired. She sold it to the current owner, family friend Borowski, in 2012.

“It took a little pushing, but I came around to the idea, and I honestly was looking for something new,” Borowski says.

While Campbell is no longer around to see the restaurant, The Spicery continues to operate with her traditions.

Primarily a lunch eatery, The Spicery offers a three-course tea. The staff bakes bread every day from scratch and creates classic dishes with a twist.

“The traditions are all still there,” Borowski says. “The decorations, the food, everything — it’s all Martha. I just keep the place open, honestly.”

The Spicery has several themed rooms: the children’s tearoom, the garden room, the blue room and the rose room, to name a few. Each room is intricately decorated. From the ceramic animal sculptures and the wall art to the printed tablecloths, the decor is reminiscent of a different time.

“I think the most unique thing about The Spicery is that it really is like stepping back in time,” Borowski says.

“It’s relaxing, it’s comfort food and it’s full of tradition. It really does feel like going to your grandma’s house.”

The tea menu includes a three-course tea with pastries, sandwiches and desserts, as well as options from the restaurant’s lunch menu. There is also the choice of a children’s three-course tea, which includes ice cream, sandwiches and cupcakes.

The lunch menu includes a daily special like roast beef with mashed potatoes or mac and cheese.

Borowski jokes that the restaurant “does it for the men, because they like to eat.”

The lunch menu has traditional and home-cooked-inspired salads, sandwiches and soups, as well as a dessert menu.

All of the menu items at The Spicery are ornately presented to induce nostalgia and elegance. The restaurant is designed to draw diners into an interactive experience.

“It’s not necessarily high-end dining, but everything is presented in really traditional ways, especially with the teas,” Borowski says.

“It’s just fun and relaxing. People love to dress up and take pictures of all the desserts and little sandwiches. It becomes a whole fun event. It’s very Instagrammable.”

The pandemic took its toll on The Spicery, as customers couldn’t experience the restaurant in person.

“Our clientele isn’t really the takeout crowd,” he says. “They are ladies and gentlemen who lunch. They want to visit and have that in-person atmosphere.”

In response, they switched to a farmers market-style system during lockdown. Every two weeks, The Spicery released a menu with shareable-sized dishes.

“We would premake all sorts of things,” Borowski says. “And everything was in these large quantities that were really perfect for small gatherings. We’d sell packs of a dozen cinnamon rolls, a pound of chicken or tuna salad, pretty much what’s on our menu but made to be taken home.”

Borowski says it is refreshing to see customers return to The Spicery after a challenging year. He says business is finally returning to normal, and he expects a successful summer season.

“It’s been a slow process, but we’re starting to get back to normal,” Borowski says.

“You can’t necessarily expect people to jump right back into socializing immediately, especially when you’re talking about dining out. But I’m starting to see familiar faces again, as well as new ones, and I think things are evening themselves out.”

The 45-year-old restaurant has become a family tradition. Many of its patrons who visited the restaurant as children are returning with their children and grandchildren. Borowski says this family environment is what sets The Spicery apart. With friendly service and a team that knows each other like family, The Spicery feels like being at home.

“I really say it’s one-third the food, one-third the atmosphere and one-third the service that really makes it feel like being at a home away from home. I think that’s what makes it really special, just that feeling of family.”

The Spicery

7141 N. 59th Avenue, Glendale

623-937-6534, 1895spicery.com

11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays for tea and lunch

8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays for breakfast