Thunder Bay·Audio

Local hot sauce company takes next step with new production facility in Thunder Bay's south core

Thunder Bay's Heartbeat Hot Sauce is responding to growing demand by opening a new production facility on South May Street, in the city's south core.

New headquarters on South May Street will help Heartbeat Hot Sauce to meet 'overwhelming' demand

Al Bourbouhakis, co-owner of Heartbeat Hot Sauce, stands outside of the new production facility on South May Street in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

There's no doubt about it, this company is hot. 

Thunder Bay's Heartbeat Hot Sauce, which launched its retail product out of the northwestern Ontario city about a year ago, is now responding to growing demand by opening a new production facility on South May Street, in the city's south core. 

"It's very exciting," said Al Bourbouhakis, the co-owner of Heartbeat Hot Sauce. 

"There's been just an unbelievable — I want to say overwhelming — response from the community, and the demand for the product has become so much greater than I anticipated this early on for us, so it's kind of driven us to take this step."

Red hot local demand

When they first launched their sauce, which is crafted in small batches using red habanero peppers, they were selling about 100 bottles per month, said Bourbouhakis. These days, they're producing between 500 and 1,000 bottles of the spicy condiment each week, for a growing number of retailers and restaurants.

"I think we've surpassed 30 retailers just in Thunder Bay right now, and we seem to find ourselves constantly sold out when the retailers are reaching out for more product," said Bourbouhakis.

The sauce has plenty of heat, he said, but also a 'bold' distinct flavour.

It was previously being produced out of Tomlin restaurant, where Bourbouhakis also works as a chef.  The new headquarters will give them more space for cooking, bottling and storage. 

Room to expand in Canada, U.S.

That's good news, considering word about the sauce seems to be spreading to other parts of Canada and the U.S. 

"We've had to sort of politely decline a lot of opportunities from retailers abroad and even in the country because we haven't had the ability to take on the production levels that would be required for them, and now we're going to welcome it all with open arms." 

Bourbouhakis said while there's been plenty of interest in the freshly painted headquarters, the facility will be used simply to make the product, and not to sell it. Bourbouhakis said they'll leave that part of the business to others. 

"We have so many amazing retailers in the city that we didn't feel the need to create one more and take any amount of business away from the businesses that are selling the product for us and are really responsible for the success we've had," he said.