Sandy Foster Interview
(Village Pizzeria And Ristorante)
In the small town of East Galway, N.Y., 10 miles west of Saratoga Springs, sits the famed restaurant Village Pizzeria And Ristorante.
But, we’re not going to talk about the restaurant in this interview. Instead we want to focus on the gourmet sauces the restaurant makes – Filetto de Pomodoro, Fra Diavolo, Vodka, and Marinaro.
To talk about those sauces is owner Sandy Foster.
Q – Sandy, I saw your pasta sauce on display at the New York State Fair, in the Horticulture Building as part of the Pride Of New York display. When you go into the stores in Syracuse, N.Y. – Wegman’s, Price Chopper, you don’t see it. Why is that?
A – I am in Price Chopper.
Q – In Syracuse?
A – Not in Syracuse.
Q – Why would that be?
A – Actually, in that area I work with Nelson Farms who is a distributor in that area, but, I’m also working on a program here to be distributed in over 100 Price Choppers. Right now I’m in 6 in the area.
Q – So, when does this program kick in to be distributed in over 100 Price Choppers?
A – Oh, hopefully very soon. It’s not an easy process. It’s something you have to show your worthiness of your product, your sales. They’ll determine. But, I also have a co. here that I deal with, with the restaurant called Quandts Food Distributors and I purchase products from them. That’s who I’m working with right now. They have a distribution into Price Chopper. They also carry other New York made products.
Q – Here’s a tip for you: when you get into Price Chopper make sure your sauce is placed on the shelves in the main pasta aisle, next to Ragu, Prego, Rinaldi. If your sauce is placed only in their gourmet section of the store, it’s not going to get as much attention.
A – Exactly. What they’re working on strongly and what I’ve always tried to support was the Pride Of New York. Some of the bigger chains say that’s what they’re going to do and I see the beginning of it and it never seems to follow through. Fortunately in the local ones in this area we are in more of the gourmet pasta sauces (section) but it’s in the regular sauce aisle. I’m very pleased with my positioning on the shelves in this area. It’s nice because we do direct store delivery here so we stock it ourselves.
Q – So, besides the 6 Price Choppers you’re in now, how are you going about promoting your sauce?
A – In Saratoga, we have quite a few smaller gourmet shops, health food stores do very well with it. We sell it at the restaurant. And if you go on to our website (www.villagepizzeria.com) , it’s there in our gift basket co. So our gift basket season is Christmas which is huge. Of course the sauce is one of the main items in the gift basket.
Q – How long have you been making pasta sauce?
A – 17 years. I started making it in the restaurant. I had a couple of stores in town sell it. Well, now it’s almost 11 years ago that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My daughter and I were in the process of branding it and creating a new label. So actually through that time it kept me occupied to say the least. That’s when we moved on and my daughter did all the artwork and the label in her mind represents me on the label holding the tomato and that’s when I started doing a lot of fund-raising for cancer. We do the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. We raised last year, right here at the restaurant $25,000 for breast cancer.
Q – Since you’re doing this interview, I take it your doctors caught the cancer in it’s early stages and you are a Survivor.
A – Yes, I am.
Q – Before you started making your pasta sauce did you realize the competition you would face?
A – Oh, absolutely.
Q – And that didn’t deter you at all?
A – No. Not at all.
Q – So, what separates your sauce from all the other sauces?
A – During the summer months, we do own property next door to the restaurant where we do have a big garden, so we use a lot of locally grown products for the restaurant. But, the sauce has gotten to a level where I have it co-packed.
Q – What exactly does that mean?
A – Someone has my schedule of process and they co-pack the sauce for me. They use your recipe and they make the sauce. I have two places that it’s produced, here, and at Nelson Farms. I’m able to be right there when it’s being made. Quality control.
Q – Are you a native New Yorker?
A – No. I’ve been here 28 years. Originally from Connecticut.
Q – Why did you choose to open a restaurant close to Saratoga Springs? Was it because of all the people who frequent the track?
A – Yes. Our restaurant is on a snowmobile trail. If you can’t go by car in the winter here, you’ll find 20 or 30 snowmobiles in the backyard. The trail goes through the backyard. It’s a New York State trail system.
Q – Summer or winter you’ve got people coming through your doors!!
A – Yes.
Official website: www.villagepizzeria.com
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