The Hot Sauce Realm is a passion project run by Ashley and Errin Ruffer. After years of waiting for their ideal location in Downtown Fort Collins to open up, Ashley and Errin finally had their dream come true in mid-2023. The Hot Sauce Realm is the only hot sauce-specific store in Fort Collins. Guests can expect samples and a curated experience when they visit the Hot Sauce Realm. Employees are eager to provide hot sauce recommendations that match each individual's specific taste preferences. We asked Ashley and Errin to talk about their experience in Fort Collins so far!
What do you love about Fort Collins?
We are ecstatic to be a small business in Fort Collins! This place is truly special. One visit and people (us included) are hooked! The mountains, the open spaces, the arts scene and the food, my gosh the food! We never get bored living here. Most importantly, people are kind. It's a thing. Maybe it's the combination of high altitude and 300 days of sun a year, but it just feels good to be part of this happy community of humans.
What are your top 3 favorite activities to do in Fort Collins?
#1 Eat. Trying different featured dishes at new and old dining establishments, people take pride in their culinary skills here. I follow so many small businesses on Instagram and when they post about exciting menu items, we are the first ones there trying them out!
#2 Attending Local Events. There is no shortage of fun! Taste of Fort Collins, the City of Fort Collins Recreation events, live music everywhere, comedy shows...all I have to do is check the Visit Fort Collins event calendar and our whole year is planned.
#3 Biking. Everything here is biking distance. Our kids love the freedom to bike along the trails and plan our trips out for maximum fun. We even have a "Bike to Work (or Wherever) Day" where you can bike to different sponsored stations and get breakfast, coffee, swag, and bike tune-ups...we participate every year!
What "can't miss" activity/restaurant/place would you tell a first-time visitor to go?
Just meander around Old Town! Park at the south end and walk up the east side of the street. Walk through Old Town Square and up Linden. Stop in some shops and buy some fun local art and trinkets. Seek out artwork in the alleys. Eat some apps at The Welsh Rabbit for a cheese experience you will never forget. Walk back down the west side of the mountain and take a right onto Oak for some more fun shopping and a stop at our favorite restaurant, Bistro Nautile...mmm...oysters. If you have a chance to stay for a few days, the hiking options are amazing, especially for a self-proclaimed non-hiker. We enjoy Pineridge for the mostly flat loop and the Prairie Dogs!
What makes The Hot Sauce Realm unique?
We are the only hot sauce-specific shop in FOCO! We have done our research and curated over 200 different hot sauces from all over the nation and tried them all too! Our staff can help you pick a sauce to your liking (sort of like a sauce sommelier, sauce-lier if you will) and give you information on the makers. 90% of the products we carry are from small businesses, so we are a small business supporting other small businesses. Also, the shop is only 6 feet wide, and the building itself has a ton of history.
What is the story behind how The Hot Sauce Realm got its start?
We came across this space 10 years ago and knew we wanted to open a Hot Sauce Shop here eventually, and now we have! The goal of the shop was to give this community access to Hot Sauces they have never tried before and to open their minds to all things spicy. You don't have to burn your face off to enjoy spicy sauces (unless you like that sort of thing); they should taste good too! The secondary goal was to show our kids that if you have a dream, you should go for it. I've been wanting to open a hot sauce shop since I was 18, and we are finally living our dream!
What do you want visitors to experience at The Hot Sauce Realm?
Whether you are visiting from in Colorado or outside, we want you to be introduced to hot sauces that are up and coming/new to the area and get you excited about them! We will always be welcoming and supportive, wherever you are in your journey with Heat. We are happy to provide tastings, host private parties, and give detailed recommendations. The back half of the shop also hosts Vintage Clothing and Vinyl Records, it's just so us.
(Photos courtesy of The Hot Sauce Realm)
Address: 208 S. College Ave. Ste. B, Fort Collins, CO 80524
Hours of Operation: Wednesday-Saturday 12-8 pm, Sunday 10 am-6 pm