Birthday Party for Business: Grandma’s Cooking Sauce Company Celebrates 10 Years

AURORA, Ohio – When Linda Priscilla cooked for 75 people for her mother’s 80th birthday 20 years ago, she had no idea that the holiday season would bring in business.

“I made lasagna, chicken parmesan and rigatoni and invited everyone over,” says Priscilla. “And everyone raved about the sauce. They were saying, ‘Take this to the market, this is a great thing.’ It took me a while, and then I talked to my husband about it and I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a good idea, I think we’ll do it.'”

Retirement was creeping up on Linda and her husband, Jim. They have forged ahead with the business, involving their grown children – their daughter is a designer who works on the labels, their son helps with store displays. Doing shows gets them out of the house, and they get a chance to meet people.

Things went according to plan.

My grandmother’s recipe makes a line of soups under the name Full Fork. The company sells four variations — spicy marinara, mild marinara (“the one with more meat in it,” she said), sweet basil marinara and traditional marinara. Pizza sauce coming soon.

The irony of all this is that Priscilla is not Italian. Well, maybe a trace according to the DNA test, she said, but she always liked Italian food.

Even when my husband and I were married, I always got Italian food whenever we went out. There was only one thing about Italian food. And to this day, I still love it. It was only one year that I could not eat any more Italian food, and we were trying to get this right to the market; I was eating a lot. Now we’re back on track, and I still love it.”

They founded the company 10 years ago. The following summer, they moved into Hainan, Jim said. They work out of their Aurora home. The soup is prepared in salt.

Priscilla worked in accounts receivable while Priscilla was an auto technician at the GM dealership in Bedford. He retired in 2018, she a year later. The retirement gig has grown, allowing more time to work on the sauce business, and they’re hoping to break into restaurants, they said.

But it all started at a party to honor Priscilla’s mother, Rosie.

“Everybody had a party,” Priscilla said. “Now they come. And don’t ask me why it’s all Italian. Everyone seems to love it too.

Priscilla is the owner of the company, her first food-business venture. Basil marinara is a top seller, she said, while spicy meat sauce is also doing well.

The company’s name is a tribute to Rosie, who made the sauce, and her grandmother, Helen. Both were Eastern Europeans, Priscilla, from the former Yugoslavia. That nation, now divided into several independent states, lay east of Italy across the Adriatic Sea. This could be the Italian influence on the cooking.

“That whole Eastern European area, I think, was like a melting pot for a lot of different backgrounds,” says Jim Priscilla. “I think that’s where it all comes from, because it’s so diverse, you know, from Italy, Greece and Turkey, to France and Germany and everything. All those countries, it was such a mix of people.

The soup’s name, “Full Fork,” came after Priscilla and her son came up with about 100 different names in Columbus, she said.

“My son and I were very excited when we decided to start this business,” says Priscilla. “So we sat on the phone for over an hour throwing things out. And he said, ‘This is like a whole forkful of pasta sauce. It doesn’t go away when you light your fork. It is very beautiful and thick. So that was the reason we came up with ‘Full Fork’. “

That sauce is available at Heinen’s, several Giant Eagle Markets, Whole Foods, Dave’s Markets and many other stores. The couple said Meijer had also arrived and wanted a scone too.

I’m on cleveland.comLife & Culture group and cover food, beer, wine and sports related topics. If you want to see my stories Here’s a directory at WTAM-1100’s Bill Wills and I often talk over food and drinks on Thursday mornings at 8:20. Twitter: @mbona30.

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