Spotlight: How Sarge’s Shrimp and Grits Sauce Found Its Niche


Some businesses offer many products or services, while others focus on doing one thing really well. Sarge’s Shrimp and Grits Sauce is an example of the latter. The niche company started as a food truck and then pivoted to focus on one quality product. Read more about the business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers specialized food products.

Founder Julius West told Small Business Trends, “We offer the only pre-made shrimp and grit sauce currently on the market. In addition, we have our own line of Yellow Stone Ground Grits along with a Seafood Seasoning.”

Business Niche

Offering the only product of its kind.

West says, “After seven years of serving our famous shrimp and grits from our food truck we have now brought the same great recipe right into your kitchen. We’ve taken the guess work out of making a great shrimp and grits sauce.”

How the Business Got Started

Out of a food truck.

West adds, “Shrimp and grits were the #1 seller on the truck. Our customers were constantly asking how to make shrimp and grits. In 2019, my wife decided that we should jar the sauce so that everyone could enjoy this restaurant-quality dish in their home with minimal effort.”

Biggest Win

Getting into a major supermarket chain.

West says, “Our product is available in 267 Harris Teeter supermarkets in 7 states in the southeast. Being in a supermarket chain has given our business credibility.”

Biggest Challenge

Pivoting to a new business model.

West explains, “After 7 years of hard work operating the food truck, my crew (my family) wanted a break. I decided to look for employment, and after 4 interviews and a cooking test with Wegmans Grocery store chain, I was offered a management position at a living wage…which we accepted. We were preparing to close the business when the offer was rescinded as a result of my 25-year-old felony conviction.

He adds, “We were devastated, but we took that as a sign that we were to continue with the business as God had more in store for us. We were able to stay in business by shifting our focus to marketing the sauce, which allowed my family to find other employment.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Improving their marketing and product offerings.

West says, “If I had an extra 100,000 I would use it to for a new website, marketing campaign including a social media manager and use additional funds to hire a food scientist to develop a freeze drying process for our product to eliminate high shipping costs.We would also look at research and development to be able to break into the food service industry.”

Company Namesake

The founder’s father.

West adds, “Our business is named in honor of my dad who was a sergeant in the Air force. Everyone calls me (his son) the sergeant but the real truth is my wife is the Captain.”

*****

Image: Sarge’s, Julius West

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.

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