Belmont resident Souren Etyemezian was looking for a business idea 25 years ago when a friend in California offered to teach him how to roast nuts the old-fashioned way: by hand, in small batches, in steel drums. Fastachi originally opened as Mixed Nuts in Belmont in 1990, and moved about 12 years ago to Watertown. A second location was added last year in Boston, carrying the same raw and roasted nuts and seeds, nut mixes, nut butters, nut crunches, dried fruits, chocolates handmade by his wife, Susan, and other gourmet snacks.
Q. What makes nuts from Fastachi special?
A. We roast as needed, nearly every day. Also, we source them well, so you’re always getting a full nut. Really, it’s an experience to come to our store. You select the container and what you put in it.
Q. Do you worry people won’t know where to start?
A. We train our staff to provide service like a concierge. We talk to our customers, ask about the budget and number of people, and give recommendations. If it’s just for them, we tell them just get it in a bag. Don’t spend money on a gift basket.
Q. Does that level of customer service ever backfire?
A. We have this debate every year. Our wait times can go to 30 or 45 minutes during the holidays, but this is what we sell and this is why people come here. You can buy boxes on a shelf anywhere. This gives you the experience, and the chance to see our other products.
Q. Do customers give many suggestions?
A. We always listen, but it’s tricky. There aren’t new nuts growing so we’re limited, and why do flavoring when the cashew is already as good as it is?
Q. Why did you select Boston for your second location?
A. From our experience at farmers markets, we found we were missing the consumer in the city. Business is good, so hopefully we’ll continue opening more stores. When and where, I don’t know yet.
Q. What is your secret to a quarter century in business?
A. It’s fun, and we challenge ourselves. Every day we ask, “What can we do better to make the customer happy?”
Fastachi is at 598 Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown and 83 Charles St. in Boston.
Call 800-466-3022 or visit to www.fastachi.com.
Cindy Cantrell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.