The sweet burn of Dave’s Hot Pepper Jelly is fading out. Local owners Dave and Kathy Sutherland are moving on to other ventures, leaving stockpiles of the popular jelly dwindling.
Dave made his pepper jelly for over 30 years. Before he and Kathy met and married, he was selling his product at a Christmas craft fair in Invermere.
“It paid for Christmas every year (pre-meeting me), and that’s all he cared about,” Kathy said.
She had higher ambitions for his wares, suggested the jelly become a business and joined forces with him to make it happen. Over the years, demand grew until the jelly was available in over thirty retail locations and restaurants.
“We’ve reached heights as high as the restaurant at the top of the Banff gondola,” Kathy said. “We were hustling and grinding.”
They loved the business, the smell of jalapenos cooking, going to farmers’ markets, interacting with happy customers and raising their son, Jake, around the jelly, but eventually the 100-hour work weeks took their toll.
“I was diagnosed with lupus well over a year ago and it has really affected my health. Spending time with family is more important at this point and I’m enjoying being a recovering workaholic,” Kathy said. “We wanted to enjoy our lives more.”
Dave is now roasting coffee for Stolen Church Coffee and working regular hours.
“He’s loving the Monday to Friday (schedule),” she said.
Kathy is working a little, writing a book and appreciating the extra time she can now spend with Dave and Jake. Even so, taking the family out of the family business was a tough choice.
“It’s hard for me. I call it bittersweet because it was our baby just like our son,” she said, adding that for her the business was made of memories like that of little Jake labelling jars when he was three years old.
Kathy hopes someone else will step in to fill them and has been in contact with a potential buyer from Alberta.
In the meantime customers will be able to keep buying Dave’s Hot Pepper Jelly until the shops run out of stock.
“We are eternally grateful for all the love and support over the years,” she said.