Flagstaff residents will soon be able to find the city’s favorite hot sauce in Sprouts Farmers Markets across the West.
RisingHy, a local born-and-bred hot sauce, has a contract to provide the natural food store chain with 1,750 cases of its Habanero Hot sauce, honey mustard, GreenGo Sauce, Habanero Olive Oil and Devil Dust Habanero Salt.
“We’re really excited about it,” said RisingHy owner Mike Konefal. “We’re hoping to energize the market.”
And it takes a lot of energy to fulfill the Sprouts contract.
Konefal and his crew start at 4 a.m. each day roasting, mixing and pouring the sauces into individual bottles by hand. Each bottle is also labeled by hand in the company’s tiny storefront on Fourth Street. The crew can make around 120 cases a day or about 1,000 bottles.
“It’s insanity,” he said. “But it’s worked for us so far. We will eventually expand, when the need arises.”
SMALL BUSINESS ‘GUINEA PIG’
Konefal said he was approached by a Sprouts representative a few years ago about selling his handmade sauces in the “local” section of Sprouts stores in Arizona. The sauce took off and recently Konefal was able to talk the store into including his products in all of their stores.
“He really liked the product and the passion that we put into making it,” Konefal said.
Sprouts stores are located in nine states across the West: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Kansas.
The sauce is also part of a new social marketing plan Sprouts is trying out to entice customers to try products from small businesses.
“We’re kind of their guinea pig,” he said.
RisingHy sauces can also be found and are used at a variety of local shops and restaurants including Coppa Cafe, Cuvee 928, Peace Surplus, Seasoned Kitchen, Campus Coffee Bean, Vino Loco, Albertsons, New Frontiers, Diablo Burger and Bashas’. All-star Grand Canyon Tours also buys in bulk from Konefal for its various tours and trips.
“We get a lot of people who come in from All-Star’s tours looking to purchase a bottle to take home,” he said.
However, visitors to Flagstaff that don’t have a Sprouts store near them don’t have to pack an extra suitcase to take their favorite RisingHy sauce home. They can order all of the sauces through the company’s website, www.risinghy.com.
MADE BY HAND
Konefal started making his various sauces in 2005 while he was still attending Northern Arizona University as a marketing major. A friend got him a hot sauce kit as joke for Christmas one year, after his attempt at making beer blew up, literally, in the room he was renting.
Each sauce is made by hand from fresh ingredients, Konefal said.
“We roast our own peppers and tomatillos and use local honey,” he said. “Every thing is all-natural and gluten free. We also don’t use vinegar in our sauces. That’s what’s different about us.”
Vinegar imparts an acidic taste to some food and messes with the taste of the habanero and jalapeno peppers, Konefal said.
Konefal also owns another local favorite of Flagstaff foodies, Tortilla Lady. He bought the business about two years ago after hearing that the owner was thinking of closing it down.
“I wanted to save a local business,” he said.
He also needed a commercial kitchen of his own in which to brew his sauces. At the time he was using Cuvee 928’s kitchen.
Like his sauces, Konefal’s tortillas are all handmade from fresh ingredients. The RisingHy store also offers a variety of hidden treats such as baked cinnamon tortilla chips and tamales on a regular basis. However, they go fast, so check back frequently.
Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2253.
2114 N. Fourth Street, Flagstaff
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.