Beth Granai was skeptical a few years ago when her husband, Scott, cooked up a new barbecue sauce for a family dinner using ginger and jalapenos.
By the third bite, she insisted he write down the recipe.
“She said if we could bottle this, we’d sell a million,” Scott recalled.
The idea stuck. Then in 2009, Scott was laid off from his job, and a good friend died unexpectedly.
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“We were the same age. He went to bed one night and he didn’t wake up,” Scott said.
The tragedy was a wake-up call for him, and he remembered what his wife had said. “I kept thinking that she’s had this idea since I made the sauce, and if not now, then when?”
Concerned about improving their own health, the Granais, who live in Cary, had been shifting to more clean eating with fewer processed foods.
Scott’s all-natural barbecue sauce fit their requirements, and they reasoned that others might be looking for the same kinds of options.
“We hear it in kindergarten,” Beth said. “You are what you eat. You don’t want to have to have a chemistry degree to know what’s in it.”
After much debate, the Granais settled on Outta The Park as a moniker, with the tagline “Clean Ingredients. Homerun Taste.” The sauce uses organic ingredients as much as possible and is gluten-free.
They turned to N.C. State University to provide a nutrition panel analysis and signed with a bottling facility in Louisburg.
Outsourcing the bottling freed them to concentrate on marketing.
“That is our strength,” Scott said. “We can sell stuff. It’s not easy, but it’s fun.”
Their first challenge was making a name in a crowded market.
“We didn’t choose the category,” Scott said. “It chose us. We had to get people inside the jar.”
The Granais said that when they researched natural sauces they found their opportunity.
“That category is underserved,” Scott said.
Outta The Park is committed to making a product as clean as possible, Beth said.
“That’s what our product is built on – the growing trend of people spinning labels around and checking ingredients.”
She said they originally worried that ginger would turn off potential customers. “What we found, especially in stores like Whole Foods, is that people really do embrace ginger.”
In 2011, a hot and spicy sauce was introduced.
As Outta The Park celebrates its fifth anniversary this month, the Granais are also celebrating national recognition. Their barbecue sauce is featured in the August issue of Prevention Magazine.
To date, the sauce is sold by more than 600 retailers; a deal was recently finalized to carry it in Home Goods stores nationwide.
The online business is growing with the addition of an Amazon store, and the Granais said they are in the early stages of developing a marinade sauce.
Scott, who has always enjoyed cooking for his family, said Outta The Park has been a good fit. “I cook, she photographs, we all eat. Everybody wins.”
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