Jerry and Annie Luka's roots are in Delhi and the Kashmir region of India, respectively. The couple professed a shared love of cooking that was passed down from their mothers and grandmothers.

They said they carried that love over into the family they created together in Missouri City, where they have lived for 23 years.

Their investment in the community began with them opening a Montessori day care center, but an urge for innovation pushed them to create My Spice Grocery in June 2021, they said.

“It's a huge shift [moving into] the service industry, but we felt the need,” Jerry Luka said. “And rather than complaining about the lack in the community, we want to be part of the community, to help it grow and develop so that we can also give employment within the community itself.”

The inspiration

Jerry Luka described My Spice as more than a store. He said it’s “a bridge between cultures, a testament to the power of shared stories and shared meals.”

My Spice Grocery carries specialty produce, seasonings and culinary items from several international markets—including India, Pakistan, Canada, Nigeria, Mexico and Jamaica.

A butcher shop and a kitchen that prepares Indian cuisine daily are unique elements of the store that Jerry Luka said sets them apart from other grocers.

The owners make a point to maintain a clean store and sell fresh quality food. For example, the staff makes fresh tortillas from scratch with their own tortilla press every morning, Jerry Luka said.

It's also important to them to cater to requests from the people who shop there, they said.

“We build our products based on [customer demand],” Annie Luka said. “So the customers will ask for something, and we will immediately bring those products in—anything from specific brands to specific items, all these things they are looking for.”

What’s special about it?

From the kitchen comes nostalgic meals such as pothichoru—a dish of rice, curry, mixed vegetables and choice of protein, all wrapped in a banana leaf.

The couple explained how the traditional preparation of pothichoru was born of necessity for the Indian working class to transport their meals, preserving its freshness and adding to its overall flavor.

“It goes [down] memory lane,” Annie Luka said. “[Our customers] really enjoy the taste of it, plus the whole feeling of, ‘We used to have this back when we were little.’”

Residents and local workers come in for breakfast, lunch and dinner for these entrees, often enjoying complimentary cardamom tea or coffee while leisurely perusing the aisles for items from all over the world, they said.

“It's overwhelming at large grocery stores versus coming here,” Annie Luka said. “We develop a very personal relationship with customers. Almost everybody comes and chitchats, they spend some time getting some tea. So the socializing part is also really good for these customers when they come in.”