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Savannah hot sauce startup aims to help veterans

  • Photos by Dash Coleman/Savannah Morning News- Army veteran Tracey Richburg, left, and Mike Roberson own Savannah Hot Sauce Co. Profits from their chipotle and cayenne hot sauces are donated to help veterans who are homeless or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Savannah Sauce Co., owned by Army veteran Tracey Richburg and partner Mike Roberson, are sold in several Whole Foods Markets. Other flavors sold include jalapeno honey mustard, bacon ketchup, jalapeno ketchup and raspberry chipotle sauce.

Like bacon? There’s a ketchup to go with it.

It’s Tracey Richburg’s favorite Savannah Sauce Co. flavor, one she developed with partner Mike Roberson.

But it’s not all about unique flavors. Richburg, a U.S. Army veteran, wants to make sure they help former military service members. So all profits from two of their Land of the Free hot sauces will be donated to help veterans who are homeless and/or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

“You get up in the morning and put a clean set of clothes on,” Richburg said. “Some people can’t do that.”

What they have been able to do is market their sauces. Richburg and Roberson have inked a deal with Whole Foods Market to sell their locally developed condiments at several of the retailer’s locations.

In a way, Richburg and Roberson started their condiment business by accident. They attended the Shrimp & Grits Festival on Jekyll Island last year and started slinging sauces for someone else. Then they figured they might as well just start making their own.

“You can’t live anywhere in the South and not like hot sauces,” Roberson said. “I mean, you’ve got your Lowcountry boils, you’ve got your clam bakes and just your cookouts. Everybody in the South puts hot sauce on everything.”

The company has two hot sauce flavors: Land of the Free chipotle and Home of the Not So Brave but still Slightly Adventurous cayenne. Richburg and Roberson plan to build their brand image with those while hoping folks try their other condiments.

The flavors they hope will drive some income for them include that bacon ketchup, jalapeno ketchup and honey mustard and a raspberry chipotle sauce.

“We were kind of thinking of different flavors that you don’t see anywhere else,” Richburg said. “Everyone has barbecue sauce. Everyone has regular ketchup. But you don’t see bacon ketchup or jalapeno ketchup.”

They’ve got some other stuff in development, too, like corn relish and a variety of salad dressings.

Richburg and Roberson develop the condiments at home and outsource the manufacturing.

Neither one of them has a background in cooking. Richburg’s experience is mainly medical, and Roberson was in construction.

But they wanted to do something new.

“We’ve always heard that if you do something you love you’ll never work a day in your life,” Roberson said. “We love it, we breathe it, we eat it, we sleep it.”

Plus, they want people to think about veterans in need.

“When they sit down with their families, we wanted them to take pause and think about the men and women of sacrifice so that they could have that freedom to sit down and spend time with their families,” Roberson said. 

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Savannah Sauce Co.

Go to www.savannahsaucecompany.com to learn more about Tracey Richburg and Mike Roberson’s line of locally developed sauces that can be found at several Whole Foods Markets. 

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In Case You Missed It