There is Plenty of Variety and Passion Behind City Peanut Shop
by Amanda Soza, photos by Terry Welch
City Peanut Shop, which will be celebrating its seventh anniversary at the end of October, started with Dan Balluff and a 20-year family joke that his father started to open a peanut shop. Although peanuts might sound like a gamble in 2009, the middle of a recession, Balluff knew that small businesses were what made downtown areas unique. “I attribute most of downtown Boise’s current success to small businesses, because small businesses reflect the character of the people and the city. It’s the small businesses that give personality to the city.” Growing up in the Michigan, Balluff and his family would often visit the many classic peanut shops that were popular in the Midwest, South, and the East Coast.
After settling in Boise in 1981 with a successful career that took him all around the word before transitioning into a consulting career that gave him the opportunity to work from home, Balluff took inventory of what was happening in the downtown area. Craft beer was taking off and he thought about joining that industry, but he decided to act on his fathers “joke” and play with the idea of opening a peanut shop. Balluff drove to the store, bought a FryDaddy, and roasted his first batch of nuts. “They were delicious. You can’t go wrong with fresh roasted nuts. They were so different from the ones that you buy in the store. I had a sense that people were tired of being sold quantity, wanted to go back to quality , and know where there food was coming from.” With the confirmation that healthy, honest food would never go out of style, he open City Peanut Shop.
There are a few passions that Balluff keeps close to his heart as he navigates owning a small business. These include honest food creations, craft beer, preserving open space, and downtown Boise. You can clearly see these passions manifest when you see Balluff sweeping the front of his store, or putting cautionary cones where the sidewalk is uneven. Balluff is a guy who truly cares about downtown and bringing Bannock Street back to life.
Balluff’s love of craft beer becomes apparent when you walk into City Peanut Shop and see an entire section devoted to “Beer + Nuts” or the “Brewers Series” line of snacking nuts that perfectly pair with many favorite local brews. “As the craft beer movement came along, I started thinking, what could we do to tie into beer. So I started to use craft beer ingredients on the nuts. We started reaching out to breweries to work together, and co-brand with each other.”
Balluff also enjoys the opportunity to sit down with local brewers and create specific beer and nut pairings that are far from conventional, like peanut brittle with pumpkin pie spices, which he has created in conjunction with 10 Barrel. First Thursday’s have also become a popular scene at City Peanut Shop with over 350 people stopping by to indulge in the unique nut and beer pairings.
Balluff says that he hopes that City Peanut Shop remains an iconic part of the Boise footprint. “City Peanut has helped make downtown successful. I started this business because I love my community. We make stuff that makes people happy. My father was right all those years ago when he said that everyone has fun when they come into a peanut shop.” You can find City Peanut Shop in the heart of downtown Boise at 803 W. Bannock Street.