GroovSauce, The Montclair-Based Hot Sauce Company That Gives Back

GroovSauce Is Heating Up // Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Firkser
GroovSauce Is Heating Up // Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Firkser


Montclair Business Owner, Greg Williams, Brings GroovSauce to the Hot Sauce Market

There are at least five bottles of hot sauce in my refrigerator. One for when I want things a little smokey, another for sweeter notes, one I use only on breakfast foods—I could go on. Greg Williams is familiar with the multiple hot sauce-bottle routines. In fact, at one point, his restaurant GroovCafe carried over 75 different hot sauces. After a customer suggested they create their
own variation on the condiment, Williams developed the recipe that eventually became
GroovSauce, a sweet and spicy blend of chilis, vinegar, and fresh mango. Williams quickly began adding a dash of his GroovSauce to many of the dishes at his cafe, from quesadillas to soup to wraps. As he served the sauce to more guests, they began asking if the
condiment was for sale.

“We knew we were on to something,” Williams told me in an email. Though GroovCafe closed
its doors in July 2017, Williams told me that many of his customers continued to contact him to
request bottles of GroovSauce. “Over the past six months, we have made more than 10 batches
and have sold out each batch—even shipping as far as California.”
GroovSauce, a bottle of which is labeled with the tagline, “sweet with heat! What a treat!” is
indeed a complex blend of sweet ripe mango and red Fresno chili. A slightly spicier pepper than
a jalapeño, Fresno chilis are smoky and fruity, which pairs well with sweet mango juice. Though
mango may not be an expected component of hot sauce, juicy-sweet fruit like mangos,
pineapples, and peaches are often used in hot sauce and other spicy condiments, like pepper
jam and salsa, to offset the heat.

“We used mango in some of the smoothies we offered at Groov,” said Williams. “To our
pleasant surprise, the combination of Fresno chili and mango blended perfectly.” After seeing the
success of their first blend, Williams plans to launch more flavors of GroovSauce, like a
MicroGreen MashUp, made with shishito peppers and microgreens; and a Sweet Zeppelin
Zepper, a blend of sweet zepper pepper and honey. Williams told me that he makes a point to
use as many local ingredients as possible in his condiments: “by producing GroovSauce locally,
we can better serve our communities as well as work to reinforce the brand.”

Though they’re thrilled with their success so far, the GroovSauce team, comprised of Williams
and Christine La Para, feel that giving back to their community is just as important as turning
profit. They make a point to implement environmental and social awareness to their core
business. La Para partnered with Toni’s Kitchen, a food ministry of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
in Montclair, to create a community garden to grow produce used in food prepared by Toni’s
Kitchen staff.

As the GroovSauce empire grows, it’s clear that Williams hopes to maintain the values he
adopted as a small business owner. In addition to maintaining a commitment to the best quality
product they can produce, Williams also mentioned that GroovSauce plans to give back a
portion of their profits to combat food insecurity, as well as support school and urban gardens.

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