Posted August 13, 2006 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

Original Juan Strikes Back at Cafe Tequila

The HSB is not the place for arugments to be had in public and while I admit this is interesting, it is getting very tiresome.

For Immediate Release
11 August 2006

Original Juan Strikes Back at Cafe Tequila: A Lesson in the Lack of Integrity in Business

Joe Polo, president of Original Juan Specialty Foods in Kansas City, has posted a “rebuttal” to a July 2006 media release by Café Tequila Brand Products on www.hotsauceblog.com. In his rebuttal Mr. Polo made defamatory statements worthy of legal action by accusing the president and CEO of Café Tequila of emailing “swear words and threatening statements”. “I challenge Mr. Polo to produce and publish even one email from me that contains swearing and threatening language.” In addition, “Polo also made statements in his rebuttal that are total fabrications such as Café Tequila “pleading” with OJSFs and, ‘Mr. Fielder also had agreements with several other reputable companies before he negotiated with Original Juan. The other companies all walked away from their executed agreements when Mr. Fielder started his tactics.’” What companies? What tactics? These statements are blatant lies with no foundation. “We negotiated with Joe polo in good faith, a concept he apparently does not or chooses not to understand. No company ever turned us down for anything. We were approached by several well known food companies that wanted to produce and distribute our products and we turned them down.”

Café Tequila terminated with OJSF on September 29, 2005 based on the fact that they did not pay on time as agreed eleven months in a row during one period and three months in a row during two other periods. Joe Polo inserted a clause in the contract that clearly stated that it was grounds for termination if they did not pay royalties on time three months in a row. In addition, the termination was executed because Original Juan sales of Café Tequila products did not generate enough in royalties to even begin to cover the day-to-day expenses of Café Tequila such as the telephone and rent let alone pay off company debts to vendors, loans and investors and this constitutes non-performance based on Polo’s representations during negotiations.

“Joe Polo represented that they would be able to sell enough product to make our vendors, lenders and investors whole and it appears to us that he had no intention of making a good faith effort to do so. When Polo was asked last year why sales were so low and for information about his marketing plan for Café Tequila products we were told ‘it’s none of you fucking’ business!’”

Mr. Polo also did not address in his rebuttal the fact that he has copied and stole the Café Tequila signature trademarked packaging without permission and is bottling his Pain is Good steak sauces in the award winning packaging. OJSF has also changed the award winning recipes of Café Tequila without permission and the company has received countless complaints from customers regarding the alteration of the taste profiles. Moreover, OJSF stopped producing Tequila Dessert Sauce without consulting with us and also without permission. Finally, Polo lowered the price of Café Tequila products in total disregard of an understanding reached during negotiations.

Café Tequila has received countless calls and emails from other companies who have had negative and costly experiences with Joe Polo and who have mentioned his Calido Chile Traders behavior. Many have referred to him as “Original Con”. In fact, several companies who were afraid to come forward previously are now suggesting a class action suit against Original Juan Specialty Foods.
“In my opinion, Joe Polo is a lying sociopathic con man and master of spin who will eventually self destruct. No one has to take my word about his behavior regarding Café Tequila but only ask around the industry to learn about his reputation.

People are starting to speak out and it is amazing that so many individuals and companies have been afraid up to now to speak out publicly about this bully. It is also remarkable that the National Association Specialty Association for the Fancy Food Trade does not police its members for this kind of behavior although they although they have stringent requirements for membership in the organization” said Fielder.

Joe Polo and OJSF continues to illegally produce and sell our products and copy our signature packaging for their own products and we believe that this will come back to bite him. We believe that the appropriate saying here is, “you can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the people some of the time. However, you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

Contact: John F. Fielder
(415) 264.0106


To the Specialty Food Community:

We want you all to know that our experience and extensive business relationship with Original Juan Specialty Foods has been outstanding! We sold our brand, Bilardo Brothers, which we built over eight years of blood, sweat and tears, to Original Juan in 2000. We originally approached OJ to look at our brand as a result of a very successful co-packing relationship built over several years. During our co-packing relationship, we had been continually impressed with the honesty, integrity, and uncompromising quality that OJ brought to every aspect of their business, from co-packing to warehousing to marketing to shipping. With the hindsight of the past six years, this decision to sell our brand to OJ was simply the best one we ever made in running Bilardo Brothers Food Specialties, Inc.

Original Juan negotiated openly and honestly with us in developing our licensing agreement. Once signed, OJ honored both the letter and spirit of the agreement, making every required payment on time and continuing to consult with us on the further marketing and growth of the Bilardo Brothers brand. As a result of this highly successful business relationship, OJ was the first supplier we contacted when we decided to set up a retail specialty food store in the Cleveland, Ohio area this past spring. OJ is now our primary supplier, providing almost 1/3 of the inventory in our new store, Bay Fine Foods. We look forward to a long and mutually fulfilling business relationship with Original Juan for years to come.

Feel free to contact us via email if you have any questions.

Heidi & Vince Bilardo Jr
Bay Fine Foods Ltd.

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog