How It All Began
Our story begins a lot like other family-owned businesses. I was working a full-time job and commuting 2 hours each day to work. I had my first son and realized that even though I loved my job, I wanted to spend more time with my family and start something that just maybe I could pass down to my children.
My father, who had just retired from his career was also looking to start a new enterprise and one day it just clicked. We realized that there was nothing on the market that could even come close to comparing to my mother's zucchini relish, so why not try to market it? After months and months of research, we finally decided to take that leap and launch Riverfront Marketing Group, LLC and with that we launched our specialty foods line, Pappy's Gourmet.
I was lucky enough to be able to quit my full-time job, with the support and encouragement of my husband, and along with my father we dove headfirst into launching our products.
Our focus was on creating a few specialty foods products (which included our famous zucchini relish) and pepper jellies that used only the finest ingredients - trying to take advantage of all the gorgeous produce grown in our area. We live in an area with a lot of family farms so we are able to get zucchini, peppers, peaches, onions and tomatoes during the summer months.
Initially we started by having our product produced for us by a co-packer until we were able to make sense of the federal regulations and learned the food industry a little more. We went around to small businesses around Washington and other neighboring cities to begin selling our products. We attended tons of art fairs, craft shows and other festivals to share our products with as many people as possible.
Still to this day, there is nothing more exciting than someone tasting our pepper jellies for the first time and having them rave about how wonderful they are.
The Growth Continues...
At the beginning of 2011 we opened our own commercial production facility in downtown Washington, MO. We found a historic building right on the river and began hand crafting our products in small batches.
In 2014 we had the opportunity to buy a small established and award winning food brand that created different varieties of pepper jellies, Liz & Linda's. We felt that the brand embodied our ideals as a company and we were able to have a smooth transition to us producing and selling the Liz & Linda's products. In the past two years we have added 5 new products to the line and are looking to continue that growth in the coming years. Some of the best sellers include Golden Pecan Pepper Jelly and the Original which is made with fresh green bell peppers with a hint of red pepper flakes for the right amount of heat.
And Then Came 2020
I don't think that anyone was completely prepared for what 2020 brought. We closed our business for what we thought would be just a few weeks in March with our intent to reopen as quickly as possible in order to help "slow the spread" of Covid. What started out being a few weeks turned into a few months of being closed. Covid had turned our lives completely upside down both with our business and our daily life as it did with almost everyone.
We gradually reopened our kitchen in the summer of 2020, going into production as often as we needed as our customers were starting to slowly reopen their shops and businesses.
Throughout the year, we encountered jar shortages that we have never before seen and ingredient shortages which made production extremely difficult for the remainder of the year. We were grateful to see sales increasing but it was a struggle to keep up while we still were not able to find a consistent source for jars.
In early 2021 we made the decision to close our kitchen facility and work with a co-packer to try and focus on our customers and make sure that we could be stocked and ready to talk with them when they needed product. It also allowed for my Father to ease into the retirement that he had been excited to begin.
In June 2021, we closed our kitchen and embarked on a whole new chapter of our business. We also streamlined our product list to include our top 11 Pepper Jellies, which meant that we were not producing some of our other products. We felt that by narrowing our products to the best selling pepper jellies, we would have a better chance of keeping product in stock and not running into sourcing issues as much as we were.
With our new business model, Dad is able to work just a few days a week and I am able to work more with our customers and growing our sales. Last year gave us a chance to put some things into perspective and we made some decisions that have had such a positive impact on our lives.
We are all excited to see what the future holds for us and hope that you will join us in our efforts to produce great pepper jellies from our family to yours!
Pappy’s Gourmet and Liz & Linda's