• 73°

New barbecue sauce made by Rowan County friends hits Food Lion shelves

GRANITE QUARRY — Six years ago, guests at a backyard graduation party could not stop raving about the chicken.

Seasoned with a rub concocted by Eli Fisher, the baked chicken surpassed even the grilled meats in flavor.

“We had other foods there too, but once people tasted the chicken with the rub, they couldn’t get enough,” party host Tom Bost said. “People talked about it for months.”

It didn’t take long for Fisher and Bost, along with fellow party guest Archie Jarrell, to sense an opportunity. Before the night was over, they had concocted something else — a plan to go into business together making and selling Fisher’s dry rub, barbecue sauces and marinades.

Now, after years of taste tests, recipe refining, bottling and distributing contracts and a lot of laughs, the three friends-turned-business partners have landed a deal that could help launch their sauces across the region. Little E Sauces and Marinades is now for sale in all Rowan County Food Lion stores.

Available in three flavors — original barbecue, Carolina style barbecue and a beef, pork and venison marinade, all $3.39 — plus a dry rub, the preparations are located in the specialty foods section at Food Lion.

Jarrell, who owns a construction company, and Bost, a real estate agent, said they were impressed that baked chicken could compete with something on the grill. Talk about starting a business started as a casual conversation.

“We were halfway serious, but by the end of the night, there’s 100 people here and not one hasn’t talked about that chicken,” Jarrell said. “That’s hard to ignore.”

Fisher, who caters and ran Jabe’s Deli in Granite Quarry and Smokin’ Guns Bar and Grill at Lake Norman for several years, took the lead. His nickname became the catchy name of the new business.

“I felt like it was possible that we could really have fun with this product and maybe make some money at the same time,” said Fisher, general manager for American Homes of Rockwell.

An inexpensive luxury, barbecue sauce will sell even in a depressed economy, he said. People enjoy cooking and grilling, and they like to impress their friends.

Using Little E products is a nearly foolproof way to make all kinds of food taste better, from chicken and venison to vegetables and eggs, Fisher said. Bost even spreads it on his peanut butter sandwiches.

“It puts a little chef in everyone,” Jarrell said.

Earning a spot on Food Lion shelves took about 18 months of determination. Fisher said he kept calling Food Lion officials, and the breakthrough finally came when he convinced someone at the company to taste the sauces. Suddenly, Food Lion was interested.

The trio say they are grateful for the support of their hometown grocer and decided not to sell their products through the mail so they could focus on stocking Food Lion and a growing number of area convenience stores.

They’re already working on additional products. Next up are western-style beans and a seafood marinade. The rub, sauces and marinade are made with Fisher’s recipes and bottled at Bobbees Bottling near Louisburg and Old South Foods near Wilson.

Little E debuted at Pops at the Post earlier this month and nearly sold out. Marketing includes a Facebook page and sponsoring local events.

Eventually, Fisher, Bost and Jarrell want to take Little E nationwide.

“We need local support,” Bost said. “If it doesn’t fly here, it ain’t going to fly anywhere.”

The trio did not disclose their start-up cost or initial investment but acknowledged that launching the business was more expensive than they anticipated. Now, they hope Rowan County cooks, chefs and grill masters will respond by trying Little E products and, if they like the taste, spreading the word.

Fisher said his unique mixture of herbs and spices make the preparations different from other brands.

“And it’s easy for people,” he said. “It will make their food taste very good without putting in a whole lot of effort.”

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

Catawba holds baccalaureate services for Class of 2021

News

$9M settlement for two men wrongfully sent to death row

Nation/World

China lands spacecraft on Mars in latest advance for its space program

Business

Gas crunch hits Washington; Colonial Pipeline paid nearly $5 million in Bitcoin ransome

Coronavirus

State mostly returns to normal operations after 15 months of lockdowns, restrictions

Crime

Blotter: Man accused of stealing car, crashing it

Crime

Man faces new charge of attempted murder for father’s shooting

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper lifts indoor mask mandate for most situations, gathering limits

Crime

Barnes gets new punishment of two life sentences in Tutterow couple’s 1992 murder

High School

High school football: State’s top honor goes to Jalon Walker

Local

Scout’s Honor: With dedication of flag retirement box, Salem Fleming earns Eagle Scout rank

College

North Carolina king, queen of NCAA lacrosse tourneys

Education

Kannapolis seniors walk elementary schools

Local

Local real estate company employees come out in force to build Habitat house

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Auditors find oversight lacking for $3 billion of state’s pandemic aid

Nation/World

When will gas situation return to normal?

Local

Rowan native Shuping posthumously receives Concord Police Department’s Medal of Valor, Purple Heart

News

GOP measure on penalties for rioting draws fire

News

Black high school softball player told to cut hair

Coronavirus

State shows 303 COVID-19 deaths in Rowan

Coronavirus

CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Crime

One arrested, another hospitalized in Castor Road stabbing

China Grove

China Grove Roller Mill open for tours Saturday