MK Business of the Month: Lava Lips • CLOSED
This business closed its storefront in May 2015. Stay in touch with Lava Lips through their Facebook page.
4915 North College Avenue
Lava Lips is one-of-a-kind hot sauce tasting bar located on the northeast corner of College Avenue and 49th Street. Owners, Michael and Lisa Siemer, opened the store in May of 2013 with the idea of offering a unique experience in the world of tastings.
Typically, there is no opportunity to sample a hot sauce before purchasing. The Siemer’s were inspired by the lack of a chance to taste before buying. They also contemplated marketing strategies for selling hot sauce. Michael explains the use of “…fear, sex, death and humor mixed in some form…” are the typical marketing tactics , which scream off the shelf at you. Siemer suggested this could cause people to buy a hot sauce for the wrong reasons.
A thought-provoking concept for the Siemer’s, they wanted to capitalize on this aspect of marketing for hot sauce – socializing, sharing stories, knowledge and advice – an approach to selling hot sauce investigated by few stores across the U.S.
Designing the entire store around the tiki tasting bar, the tropical atmosphere is a new concept for the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood. Upon walking into the store, an aroma of peppers tickles your nose, and the exotic décor keeps your eyes busy dancing across the shelves lining the walls – home to hundreds of sauces.
There is a collection ranging from hot sauce, BBQ sauce, marinades to preserves and seasonings. The enticing ambience is expressive and bold, alluding to the experience that awaits you at the bar. For a small fee of fifty cents, you receive tortilla chips or a dollop of yogurt to counteract the intense flavors and cleanse the palate, together with samples of up to ten different sensory stimulating sauces.
With a sample bottle for anything seen in the store, you would be hard pressed to not discover something new or find your new favorite flavor.
At Lava Lips, the flavor of the sauce trumps the heat, and each sampling is catered to the personal tastes of the customer. So, whether you like to be daring and can take the heat or prefer to play it safe and indulge in the sweetness of the peppers, there are a number of options for you. The idea is to help the customer enhance their cooking and eating experience by letting them try new, strange, distinctive flavors and heat to inspire a new perspective on how to use a hot sauce to accentuate their food.
An experience accompanied by an engrossing social setting, the Siemer’s desired to create a place where people could come with their friends and family as a part of an evening out or weekend adventure. They could not be happier with the location in Meridian-Kessler for its diversity in shops, and felt Lava Lips would add a flare of ‘spice’ along with the other artisan businesses scattered along College Avenue.
Visiting Lava Lips is one experience that does not go unrewarded as they offer a rewards program.
Be sure to watch for the pepper eating contests Lava Lips hosts by following them on Twitter @LavaLipsIndy and checking out their website.