Posted July 8, 2007 by Nick Lindauer in Makers

Meet Your Maker #24 : Jeff Greenberg – Grumpy’s BBQ

I was first introduced to Jeff Greenberg, the maker of Grumpy’s BBQ Sauces, by Lisa of the Three Hot Tamales. The THT had met Jeff and taken him under their wing so to speak and I was happy to get the introduction. Jeff’s BBQ Sauces speak for themselves – well the awards do and the reviews also speak volumes about the tastiness of his creations. Now, a few words from Jeff…

Jeff Greenberg

1st Place Winner – 2007 Scovie Awards
2nd Place Winner – America’s Zesty Best Food Contest
3rd Place Winner – 10th Anniversary Fiery Foods Challenge
People’s Preference – 2nd Place Award Zest Fest 2006

Q: Why barbeque sauce? Where did the idea come from for you to get involved doing this?
I really love barbeque. But there are no good barbeque restaurants anywhere near me. So I started smoking my own meats. Then I had to have the perfect sauce to go with the meat. All my family and friends liked it. So I figured why not bottle my sauce. I always wanted to be my own boss. And do something I really enjoy doing.

Q: If you had to pick a favorite sauce of yours, which would it be?
It would have to be the last one Grumpy’s came out with. My Goodnight-Loving. It is also becoming my best selling sauce. It just won 2nd place for People’s Choice at the 2006 ZestFest in Ft. Worth.

Q: Any new products we should be ready for from your line?
You bet. Right now I have been working on two other barbeque sauces. A Carolina style and a HOT style. Also I would like to see Grumpy’s making a line of rubs. Soon.

Q: Where do you see the future of barbeque sauces five years from now? 10? 20?
Right now I think the sky is the limit. Barbeque sauce is a half billion dollar industry. And growing. People all around this country are discovering great barbeque. And they are developing a taste for something other than the dollar fifty bottle of sauce you would find at your local grocery store. There are a lot of creative folks out there. The competition is brutal. You have to have a good product.

Q: What is your favorite sauce you don’t make?
I love this barbeque sauce that the Madonna Inn makes. Pick and Shovel. The hotel is on the central coast of California, outside San Louis Obispo. And I also enjoy this Texas style sauce from this joint in Denver called Frank’s Barbeque.

Q: Do you eat the sauce you make?
Hell yeah. It’s the best stuff I’ve ever had!

Q: What do you eat barbeque sauce on?
I put my Bold XX sauce on everything. What I use to put ketchup on, now I put on the Bold XX.

Grumpy's BBQ Sauce

Q: What sets you aside from the other barbeque sauce producers out there today?
I don’t know if it sets me apart, but I try to use as few ingredients as possible. Simple is better. I use no syrups or thickening agents. It’s just a very simple recipe. Just like you would do it at home for yourself.

Q: What is your inspiration before you embark on a new concoction?
I listen to my friends and customers as to what they would like. For example, the Carolina sauce I’m working on is a flavor a buddy’s wife wants me to make. She is from Virginia and just loves a sauce with a mustard base. I almost have it the way she remembers sauce to taste like when she was growing up. When I do, it will be huge. Right now it tastes pretty darn good.

Q: Outside of creating barbeque products, what else keeps you occupied or out of trouble?
Well what I do is work. My sauce company is a small, one-man operation right now. So I do stage hand work to pay the mortgage. Right now I’m working as a deck carpenter on a little production some people might have heard of. The Lion King. It is here in Denver for six weeks. And I have season tickets to the Broncos so I go to the games. And I dream of one day getting to go play a round or two of golf.

Q: How much sauce do you make in a week?
Well right now it’s not quite like that. Grumpy’s is a small business that started in December of 2004. And with having to keep a full time job, it’s been quite a task expanding my business. And the cost of the co-packer makes it difficult to produce like that for me at this time. But the business is growing and I will be using Danny Cash’s (of hot sauce fame) kitchen. But to answer your question, I bottle three times a year about 900 gallons of sauce total.

Q: How many different recipes do you go through when developing a new sauce?
Maybe four or five. I have a base for my sauces, with of course some changes. Then it’s a matter of making up samples. I take them to work and hand them out. And wait for feedback. From there, a bit more tweekage. And when everyone agrees this is it, that’s what I go with. So far this has worked.

Q: How did you get started in the industry?
I love barbeque. And was tired of my job at the convention center. My sister and brother-in-law opened a restaurant in Pismo Beach, CA. All my friends loved my barbeque and told me I should open my own joint. Not knowing any better, I quit my job and went to California to get some restaurant experience. I came back to Colorado with enough to know it’s a tough business to get into. So I decided just to bottle my sauce. Colorado Proud is part of the Colorado Dept. of Agriculture. They were my biggest help. They gave my information on co-packers, labels, bottle supply company, etc.

Q: What is your biggest challenge so far?
The balancing act I have to do. Having to work on-call through the union. So I might think I have a day off to go to some stores in the area, and you end up working. Getting on store shelves is tough. Money is a big issue as well. But with help from Danny Cash in the use of his facilities, the cost of production will go down. The price for my present and future clients will go down. And I think that will open all sorts of doors for Grumpy’s. Grumpy’s is a great award-winning product that I know will do well and people will enjoy.

Q: What is the most common question you get?
That’s an easy one: “Do you make your sauce at home?” I always have to explain to them all the rules you have to comply with to make a product that can be put on a store shelf. And where I make it. Sometimes I even have to tell them where the co-packer is located.

Q: What do you want to know from the readers of the HSB?
I would like their input on the quality of my sauce. How it stands up with sauces from their area of the country. What they want in a sauce. What they would want Grumpy’s to make next. What they think of my label.

Q: What is a typical day for you?
Well, if I’m not working, I’m catching up on business. Returning calls, going to stores on cold sale calls trying to get Grumpy’s on their shelves. Plus all the joyful things that go with home ownership. It seems I never see any family or friends. It’s just run around town all day long.

Q: Worst burn ever?
I had some of Dave’s Insanity Sauce ONCE! That’s all she wrote!

Q: Best burn ever?
Everything I’ve tried from the Three Hot Tamales. Those Jersey girls know their stuff.

Jeff Greenberg
Owner of Grumpy’s Foods
Grumpy’s Private Reserve Barbeque Sauces
5183 East 126th Court
Thornton, Colorado 80241

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Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog