Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MADE IN JAX; Hot Sauce Hobby Really Took off with about 200 Products and a Soon-to-Open Store, These McDonalds Are Loving It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MADE IN JAX; Hot Sauce Hobby Really Took off with about 200 Products and a Soon-to-Open Store, These McDonalds Are Loving It

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

Jason and Hillary McDonald's business is about as homegrown as it gets. Jason made the hot sauce in his kitchen, mixing and cooking on the stove.

"I'd been tinkering with it for years," he said. "When we got married, we couldn't think of what to give out as gifts at the wedding. So we gave everyone hot sauce, and they wanted more."

To sell it to the public, the McDonalds had to get a license and rent space in a commercial kitchen. Working out of one on Beaver Street, they starting making hot sauce and selling it at the Riverside Arts Market on Saturdays.

That was November 2011. It was a fun weekend hobby, he said. But the turning point came in 2013 with the first One Spark.

They got noticed, sales picked up and more products were added: spice blends, seasoned salts, spiced quinoa mixes, mustards, Sriracha pumpkin seeds and coconut curry.

Along their way, they quit their jobs and got MBAs from the University of North Florida.

They're still selling at RAM, but now they're in some local stores - Grassroots Natural Market, Native Sun, Earth Fare - as well as 62 Winn-Dixies.

In all, they're up to about 200 products. But Jason said they don't list them all on the company's website simply because they run out a lot.

They have six people working for them mixing and making those products.

The next step is a really big one, one he'd planned from the beginning.

"I could always see the end goal of opening a storefront," Jason said. "But I'd never opened one, and it took me two years to find the right spot."

That spot is on Lake Mead Avenue, off Baymeadows Road East and Interstate 295. It's less than half a mile from where the new Ikea store will be built and about 3 1/2 miles from St. Johns Town Center.

"It's an excellent part of town, close to the Town Center without being in the Town Center; and we're the first business of its kind in the area," he said. …

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