By Sydne Tursky
S-C Seasoning Company has been making Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning since 1969, and not much has changed since then. The operation is still run in the same town – Harrison – and it’s been continuously owned by the Cavender family. The business is a piece of Arkansas history, and the family that runs it intends to keep it that way.
“We are a third generation-owned family business, which is kind of rare in this day and age,” says owner Lisa Price. “Our company is very much an American dream. Very few family-owned businesses make it to the third generation, and that’s something that we’re proud of.”
Cavender’s history began in 1948 when Katherine and Spike Cavender moved their family to the Ozark Mountains. Spike liked that there were ample opportunities for hunting, fishing and new business ideas. He tried out a motorcycle dealership, a retail store and even root beer stands before turning his attention to a long-time passion: his famous Greek seasoning.
Spike had been making his “secret stuff” for years, giving it away to family and friends who requested it. The recipe wasn’t his originally, but a friend in the 1950s had gifted it. For his grandchildren, the seasoning played a part in many of their favorite childhood memories.
“Granddaddy Spike would ‘season’ our steak dinners and leave the marinating platter sitting on the kitchen counter all afternoon,” Cavender family executives recount on the company website. “As we ran in and out of the kitchen door while playing outside, we would use our fingertip to swipe the edge of the platter—sometimes even the meat itself—then lick our fingers to taste the awesome spice blend that he had used.”
When Spike decided to market the seasoning, he and his son blended a batch and took it to a few grocery stores in Harrison. The seasoning sold fast, and Spike got to work. His family helped him blend the seasoning on the weekends, and he would deliver orders each week.
Since those early days, the company opened its own production facility and has become a hallmark of the Harrison community. The business is now owned by Spike’s granddaughters, Lisa Price and Cara Wohlgemuth, and the seasoning is sold nationwide and in most parts of Canada. But all this success should be credited to Cavender’s customers, Price says.
“The sales have been [perpetuated] through word of mouth advertising,” she says. “The citizens of Harrison have told countless family and friends, they have shipped seasoning to family and friends all over the world, they have taken it with them on family visits… We would not be in the position we are in right now without the support of our city. That has been a very integral, key part of our success.”
While the family has been approached over the years about selling the company, they’ve always turned down the offers. They like being a small, family-owned business. They have between nine and 11 employees, depending on the time of year, and some have been with them for as long as 30 years. Their business is history, and they love it.
“The key to our success obviously is one thing, and that is an excellent product,” Price says. “Our seasoning is unique in the market. You can use it with several different dishes in the same meal, but somehow it doesn’t all taste like Greek seasoning. It does not make your whole meal taste the same, and I don’t know how that is, but we’re very blessed by that. It truly is an all-purpose seasoning.”