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Little Louís Barbecue

Lance Wagner of Little Louís in Los Gatos now sells his barbecue sauce in local stores and at San Jose Giants games

THERE IS more than barbecued ribs and chicken cooking at Little Louís Barbecue in Los Gatos. Sales of the restaurantís barbecue sauce are smoking.

Little Louís owner, Lance Wagner, had been selling his regular and spicy barbecue sauce out of the restaurant for years. Encouraged by friends and customers, he decided to try to put his stuff on the shelves of local stores. He had a label designed featuring a happy chef manning a flaming grill and went through all the legal and bureaucratic hoops to get his product to market. Now the sauce is for sale at Lunardiís, Cosentinoís, the Summit Store in Los Gatos, several local Ace Hardware stores and various locations in Santa Cruz County. Costco is going to carry the sauce next month and Safeway is interested as well. Not bad after just four months.

ďI donít want to say itís been easy, but itís gone really well,Ē says Wagner. ďItís pretty cool to go into a store and see your stuff on the shelf.Ē

The sauce sells for $4.99 at most stores. Iím a fan of the spicy sauce. Itís got a good balance of sweetness and vinegar with a healthy dose of cayenne and chile-flake heat. Itís spicy for sure, but the heat doesnít crowd out the other flavors. Wagner created the recipe for the sauce, but now itís made and bottled in a commercial facility in Healdsburg. The kitchen has been making Little Louís sauce for years and can handle as much volume as Wagner can send its way.

The sauce has also become the official barbecue sauce for the San Jose Giants. Wagner met some representatives of the minor league ball club at an auction and asked them if theyíd be willing to give his sauce a try. They had been serving Cattlemenís sauce but said it had to be ďdoctored upĒ to their liking. The Giants reps liked the sauce, and now itís served on all the barbecued and grilled meat at Turkey Mikeís, the barbecue restaurant located along the third-base line at San Joseís Municipal Stadium.

Business continues to cook for Little Louís. Wagner says heís planning to open another location in Campbell by the end of the year.

Little Louís Barbecue
15466 Los Gatos Blvd., Los Gatos