Johnny’s Fine Foods won’t make its famous spices in Tacoma anymore

Johnny’s Fine Foods has been at its current location at 319 E. 25th St. in Tacoma since the early 1980s.
Johnny’s Fine Foods has been at its current location at 319 E. 25th St. in Tacoma since the early 1980s. The News Tribune

By around the end of the year, Johnny’s Fine Foods will stop making its seasonings in Tacoma and instead partner with a Woodinville manufacturer.

The production shift, from the company’s Dome District warehouse to Woodinville, has been going on for about a year.

“They are doing some of our manufacturing for us so we can focus on building our brand,” said company president and CEO Kevin Ruda.

About 15 workers have lost their jobs, he said.

Johnny’s Fine Foods’ marketing and sales offices will remain at its current location, 319 E. 25th St. Some quality control and other hourly positions will remain here, Ruda said.

The company also will distribute some of its product from the current location.

“We are not bowing out of Tacoma or anything like that,” Ruda said.

The move was necessary because of the age of its Tacoma building — Ruda estimated the company has been at its current location since the early 1980s — and the cost to upgrade to newer equipment that would comply with current regulations.

“We would’ve had to move to a new place,” he said.

The company was founded in the mid1950s by patriarch Johnny Meaker, and produces a large line of gourmet food products, along with seasoning spices, salad dressings and marinades.

Its most well-known product is Johnny’s Seasoning Salt, a mixture of garlic, paprika and other spices. The company sells most of its spices wholesale to grocery and club stores across the country, Ruda said.

“The spice business is a good business, but it’s not like it’s growing in leaps and bounds,” he said. “It’s kind of a slow-turn business. A jar of seasoning lasts you a long time.”

Johnny’s Fine Foods is coming out with a line of cooking sauces in 2018, geared toward people who want to cook but might not have the time to cook entirely from scratch, Ruda said.

Flavors will include adobo tequila, a whiskey sauce and firecracker sauce.

For now the company is staying in the Dome District, Ruda said, but it might eventually move.

“It’s hard, but it’s one of the things you have to do to move on,” he said of the shift in production.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports