The origin of Austin’s Own BBQ Sauce really had its start in Amarillo, TX. My husband (Joe Cayton) and his dad (Merle Cayton) owned the Hickory Hut on NE 3rd Street in Amarillo, Texas. “The Hut” as everyone called it was only opened for breakfast and lunch as it was in the industrial section of Amarillo and not much business was available after around 3:00 in the afternoon. There was always a great breakfast crowd but Katie Bar the Door when lunch rolled around. Even on those snowy wintry days with cold wind blowing 50mph there was a line out the door for a sliced beef plate covered with that locally famous sauce! The Hut remained opened for a number of years until the passing of Joe’s parents. The Hut was sold and Joe and I moved to Austin in late 1983 and we made sure to pack the recipe of our family sauce.
The new life in Austin included requests for our sauce from old Panhandle friends and new Hill Country friends. Before we knew it we were making sauce in our kitchen for birthdays and every other holiday on the calendar! The big question from everyone was “when are you going to market this great sauce”? Well, we had no idea how to market anything - much less a food product. So with continued encouragement from friends we decided to call the Texas Health Department to ask them! No better way than to go to the source! They more or less took us by the hand and told us exactly what we had to do.
In December 1986 our sauce appeared on just a few local grocery store shelves. We named our sauce “Austin’s Own BBQ Sauce” after our town because the support we received from everyone in Austin was phenomenal. Production was moved from our kitchen to the back room of a pizza kitchen and after a couple of years we stretched our dollars to set up our own 1500 square foot commercial kitchen. We were on our way with brokers, distributors and many more stores so we had to have more space. We even had our glass jars delivered to our facility instead of traveling to San Antonio to buy and transport jars ourselves! How cool was that? Then after a couple of years our glass delivery guy - after seeing us work hard all day just to manufacture 50 cases of sauce suggested that we take another trip to San Antonio – not to pick up jars but to visit with Creative Foodworks, Inc. He also delivered glass to Creative Foodworks, Inc. They had automation and employees and we had none of that! We were so green in the business that we never realized that there are production companies available! It is truly a huge learning curve!
Creative Foodworks, Inc has been our production facility for more than twelve years. Without their help we would never have had the time to create two more flavors that are on the market currently and additional products in development. I’ll continue to add more chapters to be read on our website plus I’ll tweak these chapters to include greater detail, as the journey is never ending. We’ve gone from just a few local stores in Austin to national distribution – plus an appearance on the Food Network with Bobby Flay as well as being chosen as the favored sauce of Whole Foods Market plus providing big club size jars for COSTCO! Other markets including the US Military are forthcoming.
To be continued…
Sharon K. Cayton
Austin’s Own, Inc.