Windsor's famous TBQ Sauce has gone global.
Innerseasonings International Inc., which produces the sauce and spices that were once used at downtown Windsor's popular Tunnel Bar-B-Q restaurant, will sell the goods across the Middle East.
"It's a completely different demographic for us considering it was always pork sauce," Innerseasonings CEO Helena Ventrella said.
Innerseasonings is in the process of getting its sauces and spices labelled in Arabic and certified halal and kosher to increase its appeal in the Middle East, where they will be used on beef, lamb and chicken but not pork, because practising Muslims don't eat pork.
A distributor in Dubai will provide the sauce and spices to a number of grocery store chains in Jordan, Pakistan, Oman, India and Sri Lanka.
Shipping has already started. Full production will begin in August.
Ventrella says the deal doubles production at its Windsor facility and will create 20 new jobs.
For years, staff would make the sauce in small 20-litre batches in the kitchen on the stove. The company sells about eight pallets of the sauce to Costco in Windsor each month.
It's anticipated Innerseasonings will ship 10-20 pallets of product to the Middle East every month.
Ventrella says a trip to the 2015 Grocery Innovations Canada Conference in Toronto opened the door to the international market.
The Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation brought a group of delegates brought to the conference and introduced them to Ventrella.
"When people tried the products, when they actually ate them … they absolutely loved the product," she said of the sauce her Lebanese grandmother perfected.
Ventrella said there is "a lot of ethnicity in the spice blends."
Locally, the Tunnel Bar-B-Q Sauce is available at Costco, a few independent markets and the Duty Free Shop. It's also available at a couple gourmet markets in Toronto and Michigan.
The Tunnel Bar-B-Q restaurant downtown closed in late 2014. It was demolished in 2015. The University of Windsor has taken over the property as it expands into the downtown core.