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Schnucks Partners With Black-Owned Businesses To Bring Local Products To Shelves

Cathy Jenkins, owner of Cathy’s Kitchen in Ferguson, stands next to her sauces for sale at Schnucks.
Courtesy of Cathy Jenkins
Cathy Jenkins, owner of Cathy’s Kitchen in Ferguson, stands next to her sauces for sale at Schnucks.

For Cathy Jenkins, the owner of Cathy’s Kitchen in Ferguson, the impact of COVID-19 has been the toughest thing she’s faced as a restaurant owner.

“I’ve been through two riots, windows broken out in both, and I would have to say the most stressful would have to be the COVID-19 [pandemic],” she said. Stopping the spread of the coronavirus has meant increased costs for protective equipment and careful attention to safety precautions. “It’s difficult. You’re almost running like a hospital just to cook.”

Jenkins’ business model got turned upside down once Cathy’s Kitchen stopped offering dine-in services. The restaurant focused on take-out orders. And Jenkins began bottling more of her hot sauces for individual sale.

Now, thanks to a new partnership with Schnucks, customers can now find Cathy's Sweet and Spicy Hot Sauce and Cathy's Jerk Wing Hot Sauce at 10 Schnucks locations. It’s part of Schnucks “Local Grab and Go” program, which has focused on featuring Black restaurateurs.

Jenkins said the financial impact of the partnership is small, but that these things take time. While it’s been a challenge to prepare sauces for bottling even as she preps meals for restaurant diners, she plans to continue and eventually expand the bottling operation.

“It has been trying, trying to make all that sauce and you know, still run a restaurant,” she said. “But we are so excited about it. We welcome it. Everyday we are learning new things — how to get it out faster, and buying new equipment. So we’re excited. We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure we use this opportunity to the fullest.”

Friday’s St. Louis on the Air featured comments from Jenkins, as well as an interview with the owners of the Fattened Caf, Darren Young and Charlene Lopez Young, who are also participating in the program. The Schnucks employee facilitating these partnerships, Andy DeCou, joined the discussion as well.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
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