For many years, they made their sauce in a 9,000-square-foot facility. In 2015, they moved to the 25,000-square-foot plant they operate today.
Pallets of bottles and buckets of Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q sauce sit awaiting distribution in the company’s 25,000-square-foot Marietta facility. CONTRIBUTED BY LESLIE SNEED
The smell of barbecue sauce permeates the air at the facility, in an industrial park off Cobb Parkway. Inside, there are 650-gallon stainless steel tanks in which they cook the 275 batches of sauce they make each year.
The vinegar comes in 250-gallon totes. In a year, they’ll need 15,000 gallons. Williamson said they go through a million pounds of tomato puree and 130,000 pounds of cane sugar each year, as well as 80,000 pounds of onions.
“We’re the only barbecue sauce maker putting a fresh produce puree in our sauce,” he said. “Tip our bottle, and you’ll see the bits of onion and garlic and the black pepper suspended in the sauce. We think it’s our ingredients that make our sauce so good, and that we stew our sauce for over five hours.”
Williamson noted that the sauce isn’t just used at barbecue joints. “Barbecue sauce is used in all world cuisines,” he said. “Our business is almost 40 percent food service now, because the sauce is used by chefs for Korean and other Asian cuisines, and in French and Italian cooking.”
Larry Williamson’s son Sawyer is the second generation in the family barbecue business. He’s vice president of operations. CONTRIBUTED BY JOANN VITELLI
The second biggest use after traditional American barbecue? Mexican food.
So, thanks to the suggestion from that original grocery manager back in the 1990s, you can enjoy the Williamsons’ sauce at the three restaurants, but you also can find it in bottles on the shelves of Kroger, Publix, Walmart, Whole Foods, Ingles, Food Lion, Little Giant, Target, Piggly Wiggly and Sam’s Club. Their products are sold in 2,000 grocery stores and used in 500 restaurants. And, last year was the first time they shipped their sauce to independent grocers west of the Rockies, and exported sauce to Korea.
The company started bottling its barbecue sauce in the 1990s. It’s now available in more than 2,000 grocery stores. CONTRIBUTED BY NATHAN BOLSTER
They also make sauce for other barbecue places in town. “We’ve become a full-scale manufacturer,” Williamson said. “Our sauce allows somebody to start with our 5-hour base, and then make it their own. I’d describe the flavor as ‘great for kids and great for grandmothers.’ It’s a good all-purpose sauce, not too spicy, not too sweet, slightly tangy. We take our sauce to festivals, and there are very few people who don’t end up telling us it’s delicious.”
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