Local salsa spicing up grocery stores’ shelves

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OZARK, Ala,(WDHN) — For decades customers have been coming to El Palacio for their great food and unique Sombrero Salsa. Now customers are celebrating the arrival of Sombrero Salsa in grocery stores shelves across the Wiregrass

“El Palacio was formed over 50 years ago, it has a rich history down here, it actually started in Huntsville and franchised into Ozark, Enterprise and Dothan,” said
Kevin Smith, co-owner of Sombrero Salsa. “One of the things that came from El Palacio is Sombrero Salsa.”

Co-owners Kevin Smith and Ben Brown bought the rights to Sombrero Salsa seven years ago and have been busy working on the perfect way to mass-produce and distribute the salsa to grocery stores across the Panhandle. Sombrero has been in stores once before in the ’90s but was short-lived after the demand outgrew the supply.

“We did not want to make the same mistakes that previous owners did 20 years ago, so our goal was once we get it made and back on shelves, not to run out. That was the goal not to run out,” said Co-Owner Ben Brown.

Demand for the salsa has been high especially at local stores. Grocery Outlet in Ozark was one of the first stores to request Sombrero Salsa be sold on their shelves.

“We’ve had it now for probably 3 or 4 weeks and we are going through about 20 cases a week on average,” said Grocery Outlet’s assistant store manager, Clint Simmons.

When the pandemic hit most small businesses worried for their livelihoods, El Palacio was no different but they used that time to focus their energy on getting the salsa distributed. The way the owners saw it, the pandemic changed the way of life for many, so getting their product into stores was another way to pivot and adjust to people staying home and not going out as much to eat.

“Without Ozark,Alabama, and the loyal customers in this area you know we wouldn’t be able to get that on store shelves, this restaurant wouldn’t be in business,” Brown said.

For those wondering if they’d be able to handle the heat… Smith says, “It’s got a great flavor with a great heat to it, it’s not just a bland salsa.”

Sombrero Salsa is being distributed in grocery stores across Alabama and Florida. For more information on where exactly you can purchase the salsa visit their Facebook page.

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