How a top-reviewed craft BBQ sauce on Amazon got its start (and its name) in Charlotte

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Ogre Sauce

The year was 1977… a time when Phillips Place was still farmland and Southpark Mall’s future location was occupied by a small shopping center with a Record Bar Store. It was during this era that two Sharon Elementary rugrats, Mike “Ogre” Weeks and Mike Vagianos, started their lifelong friendship. Fast-forward more than 40 years and the duo can now be found working on a top-reviewed craft BBQ sauce on Amazon, Ogre Sauce.

Seventy-four percent of the customer reviews give the sauce five stars.

Ogre Sauce

So how did this all-natural bottle of zest get started?

Ogre’s grandmother would whip up batches of the almighty condiment for her husband, as it was the only sauce he would eat. When she passed away, Ogre inherited her cooking duties and mastered how to make it himself.

Being no stranger to the kitchen, Ogre was often asked by his friends to cook for the masses. In 1999, he decided to make a batch of his grandmother’s sauce for some ribs he was grilling for a few friends. Needless to say, they freaked out and wanted more. That day, he ended up making 20 racks of ribs and the word spread quickly.

Want access to Ogre’s gastronomical cookbook? Click here to help fund Ogre Sauce Hot’s kickstarter campaign and they’ll send you a copy! 

Ogre Sauce

Before Ogre knew it, he was making batches so large that he partnered with East Boulevard Bar and Grill to serve it out of their kitchen.

This business decision was a huge upgrade from selling buckets out of the trunk of his car during his shift breaks at the Apple store in SouthPark mall.

Mike and Ogre’s mutual draw towards a creative outlet has always been a common ground for them to relate to each other. Ogre dove into visual arts while Mike started his own record label (now called Ends Meet). In 2003, Mike hired Chris Lawson (now a partner in the Ogre empire) to help build his Charlotte-based record label. Over the years, they have signed a number of local bands to their roaster – including Baleen, The X-Periment and The Houston Brothers.

Ogre Sauce

The alliance begins…

After creating a great working relationship, Mike introduced Chris to Ogre and the craft BBQ sauce alliance was born.

The trio has kept the brand fun and exciting as it grows — Ogre sees it as a form of art while Mike and Chris promote the cookout staple like a great band.

Ogre Sauce is now bottled and sold at 42 Whole Foods locations in the Southern region along with some select Charlotte retailers (including Reid’s and Earl’s Grocery). As for restaurants, you can find them at the hot bar in all 130 locations of Tijuana Flats and slathered over chicken wings at The Turnhouse Grille. With the roaring success of Ogre Sauce original, the gang has decided to release a new flavor.

This little upstart is really making some noise… make sure to follow their adventures on Instagram and click here if you’d like to support their newest kickstarter campaign for Ogre Sauce Hot.

Oh, and how did Ogre get his nickname? He has two distinctive characteristics that make him stick out from the crowd: his size and crazy mop of curly hair. During sophomore year at Myer’s Park High School, he earned his new handle by being referenced as Ogre from the film “Revenge of the Nerds.”

Photos provided by Ogre Sauce. 

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