MOUNT GILEAD — They call themselves “the sauce guys” and the two men recently opened an eatery at 29 S. Main St. in the former 8 Sisters Bakery location.
Eric Morningstar and Denim Franklin, who are cousins through marriage, began serving customers at E.D. S The Sauce Guys on May 27.
Their culinary knowledge and creativity show up both in the food and on the walls of the newly remodeled downtown restaurant.
“Neither one of us has a business background,” Franklin said. He is from Marion and Morningstar is from Galion.
The first commercial sauce was sold five years ago and they’ve been experimenting ever since. Today they market 14 bourbon sauces, a Southern style collection featuring Mango Habanero, Sweet-N-Smoky, Ghost Berry, Blackberry and others.
“It all kind of started with the sauce at a Fourth of July party in 2015,” Morningstar recalled. “We made some ribs and had a big fireworks show. Everybody loved it.”
They have an innovative menu with meals featuring Pulled Pork Fiction and Up In Smoked Bologna, giving props to the iconic Quentin Tarantino film and the comedy duo of Cheech & Chong, respectively.
There is also Sweet Pineapple Cole Slaw and 3 Abeanos, as well as Children of the Cornbread.
“It wasn’t my intention to sell it, but we sat down at the table with our wives and came up with different ideas … including putting the fruit on meat,” Morningstar said.
Their first bourbon sauce was pineapple-based. A turning point soon followed for the affable duo.
“It wasn’t until we made the blackberry sauce that we knew upon tasting it — then and there — this was something super special,” Franklin said.
For six years they developed their brand of sauce. They use premium bourbon whiskey and it is cooked to a non-alcoholic level.
“This sends our sauce to a whole new level of flavor.”
“A lady came in the restaurant last week and said, ‘You know, I could come in here every day and have a different sandwich just by picking a different sauce,’” Franklin said.
The choices include bourbon, barbecue, mustard and even a glaze.
“It’s a passion,” Franklin said. “We love this.”
The guys are firm believers in trial and error.
“If it doesn’t work, we go back to the drawing board and continually experiment,” Morningstar added.
Catering at a VFW event was a turning point for the duo.
“We fed 60 people and everybody just loved it,” he said. “We smoked a whole ear of corn in the husk, which we will eventually do here.”
Down the road their goal is to “replicate this into a franchise and see us in every store in the country.”
Their products are available at the restaurant and at various retail outlets in Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee. Their co-packer is Cooper’s Mill in Bucyrus.
Hours are Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. until sold out and Saturday noon until sold out.
For information visit their Facebook page or www.edssauceguys.com.