A couple of months ago, I'd say a few days removed from Snowmageddon 2018, I found myself in the kitchen whipping up a pot of soup.
It was tomato soup, actually. Yes, we all love that special kind of wonderful they prepare at SOHO South Cafe, but when it's 23 degrees outside, sometimes it's easier to put on six layers of clothing and make it at home. Which I did.
As I reached the end of the particular recipe I had chosen to follow, it called for a couple of tablespoons of honey. I'm an idiot, so I hadn't checked on whether I had any honey at home. We've all been there, when you start tossing stuff out of the cupboard. There it was, right next to the maple syrup. An unopened jar of honey. Boom.
I didn't read it, didn't look at the label, none of it. I opened it, measured it, added it to the pot and stirred. Now, when you measure honey, it can get messy. This was no different. It was all over the measuring spoon and my fingers. It was everywhere. So, I starting licking - I licked it and liked it. Actually, I licked it and loved it.
It was at that moment I actually stopped to read the label: Capital Bee Co. A couple of minutes later, I put two and two together and realized it was the brand-new shop on Broughton Street that I see after I get my hair cut. Right on the corner of Price.
I've since come to find out that store owner Thomas Hinely has been obsessed with honey for the better part of five years, if not longer.
"I just really enjoyed it. I had a good palate," Hinely says, "so I just starting buying good quality honey, bottling and labeling."
He started in a warehouse down off of President Street back in 2013, with no real intention of having a storefront in Savannah. There were a number of reasons for that, not the least of which was the 6,000-pound honeycomb down the street. Savannah Bee Co. has almost become synonymous with this region.
"I was happy doing trade shows," Hinely says. "You do enough of them and you learn which are the better shows. You do enough of those and you learn which are the best shows."
Trade shows and online sales. That was it. The next thing you know, Hinely had a full-blown operation on his hands. He needed help, at which point he recruited Kristen Harkleroad to join the team and help him streamline the company's growth. There was talk of a storefront, but it really wasn't their biggest priority.
"I found this space here on Broughton," Harkleroad says. "It was under contract. So we figured it wasn't meant to be."
Two weeks later, they got a phone call. That deal had fallen through. They signed on the dotted line weeks later.
"We signed a lease in August and had trade shows every weekend through December," Harkleroad says. Long story short, everyone was spread thin. Still, they opened in November and haven't looked back.
They are tapping into products from all over the country - only the best quality they can find. Their honeycomb is in South Georgia, but that is as local as it gets. They aren't claiming to be local, only in so much as they are native Savannahians with a beautiful storefront where people can purchase great quality honey or other boutique items. They are, however, quick to point out that the honey is all-American. Nothing is imported.
"People come in here claiming to be honey snobs," Hinely tells me. "They try some of ours and they say immediately it's some of the best they've had."
"Other people will say they don't like honey. I just get them to try it. Usually they wind up buying a jar," Harkleroad says.
As far as competition? They aren't worried about it. Not at all. "Service Brewing isn't trying to take down Budweiser. Not at all. We just believe we have a great honey here that people can enjoy," Harkleroad says, and apparently the neighborhood agrees.
"When we opened, I thought my biggest worry was going to be how to get people to walk down Broughton beyond Leopold's. Now our biggest customer base is the neighborhood sitting right here behind us. We get a ton of regulars," Hinely says.
Some of those regulars might even be using the honey in their tomato soup. You never know. If they did, I'm quite certain they'd eat it and like it.
See you on TV,
CAPITAL BEE CO.
Address: 421 E. Broughton St.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Info: capitalbeecompany.com, 912-335-7263
If you are in Statesboro, join us March 1 for Tasting Statesboro. With 35 area restaurants on hand - all in one spot - we can all eat it and like it. Find out more now at tastingstatesboro.com.
1540 Room is having a pop-up charcuterie evening March 1. Enjoy two cocktails and a charcuterie board for $30. Guest bartender is Jane Fishel. Eat it and drink it and like it at the DeSoto from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Savannah's second annual Soup It Up For Loop It Up is March 3. Close to a dozen area restaurants will participate in a soup competition at Ghost Coast Distillery. Loop it Up is a local nonprofit dedicated to helping children. Promises to be a great event. Tickets and more information now at Loop It Up Savannah's Facebook page.