Frankie Scala Interview
(Frankie's Gravy Inc.)

Frankie Scala was working on Wall Street until he retired in the year 2000.
That same year he launched Frankie’s Gravy Inc. a company specializing in pasta and pizza sauces.
Advertised as “The Best Sauces This Side Of Brooklyn”, we spoke with Frankie about his business.

Q – Frankie, I saw your pasta sauce in Wegman’s this week. Problem is, it was on the bottom shelf, not at eye level. You have to get on your knees to get to your sauce. Why wouldn’t they put your sauce alongside Ragu, Rao’s, Patsy’s, Joey’s?
A – I’ll tell you why. The reason why is they had another sauce down there and we replaced that sauce. So, when they re-set the planogram as it’s called it will be somewhere near eye level.

Q – When will they do that?
A – Probably after the New Year.

Q – I don’t see how anyone can sell their product if it’s not at eye level.
A – Well, I’ll tell you what, we are doing demos this weekend.

Q – What does that mean?
A – In other words you can go into a store and taste the different sauces they carry with pasta.

Q – Besides doing this interview, and doing demos in stores, how else are you marketing your sauce?
A – We market our sauce through food brokers who have relationships with stores who will present the product to different buyers. If they like the taste of the product, and the packaging of the product they will present that to the buyers. The buyers will taste it and if they like it then they will set up a marketing and promotion program.

Q – You worked on Wall Street.
A – That’s correct.

Q – You were a stockbroker I take it?
A – I was a Foreign Exchange broker.

Q – So, you made enough money doing that to launch your own co?
A – Well, sort of. We had certain assistance from small business associations as well.

Q – What does your partner Susan Walsh bring to the mix?
A – Well, Susan Walsh is basically our ingredient person so to speak. If you need to know about the special ingredients that do into the product and how to make any of our sauces with a particular dish, she would be the consultant to do that. She also brings her knowledge of the food industry. She owned a catering business as well.

Q – Wasn’t she also in corporate America?
A – She was in corporate America. Her last job was with Tyco International.

Q – Your sauces are also available for private labeling.
A – That’s correct.

Q – What does that mean?
A – Private labeling would be like if Gary James wanted to put out a marinara sauce. You’d come up with a label, a Gary James label; whatever you want on that label and you would use my product inside that jar.

Q – Don’t you want your product to be strictly your product?
A – Well, it is my product. You’ll not have my formula, but, if you are for instance like Paul Newman, Paul Newman’s sauce, that might not have been Paul Newman’s recipe, but somebody else had created a recipe for Paul Newman and with his knowledge, expertise and stardom sold that sauce. So, I can put anybody’s name on that jar if they are willing to accept my recipe.

Q – Suppose a person wanted to come in and put their own mix in the pasta sauce bottle. Would you do that?
A – We can do that as well, but not with our sauce. We’d have to create a new one for ‘em. Our sauce is propitiatory.

Q – What do you think makes your sauce stand-out in the market place?
A – Well, two things: one is its price. It’s priced lower than Patsy’s and Rao’s who go from $6.99 to $9.99 in different stores. Beside the price the quality of the sauce. We use San Marzano Tomatoes straight from the field in Naples, Italy. We use extra virgin olive oil. We use all fresh ingredients like in our portobello sauce we use fresh Portobello mushrooms. In the olivaca we use only the finest creams and butters. We don’t use any frozen ingredients in our puttanesesa. We use fresh anchovies, not anchovy paste. Our fennel is also a fresh dried ingredient, fennel seed and fennel pollen. Our pizza sauce is a gourmet pizza sauce. All of our sauces are gourmet. As the result-----the good taste and quality of our sauces, are from these fresh ingredients and the slow cooked process and attention to how the sauce is made is what makes the product, the finished product.

Q – Why did you decide to enter the pasta sauce business? It is pretty competitive isn’t it?
A – It’s pretty competitive, but, we feel that we have not only a quality product, but we feel that especially in these economic times and these markets, we can feed a family of 4 with a jar of pasta, a pound of pasta, a liter of soda and a piece of bread, and basically you have a meal.

Q – You’re definitely looking to be a player on the national scene with your sauce aren’t you?
A – That’s correct.

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