A Charlotte-based sauce is making its way to stores across the Southeast region this month.
Larry Swayne has been selling his signature mambo sauce, a sweet and tangy condiment, across the city since 2016. Two years later, Swayne got the opportunity to sell Wingzza Mambo Sauce in US Food CHEF’STORE, a national restaurant supply store in Charlotte.
Now, the sauce is expanding to CHEF’STORE locations across Virginia as well as North and South Carolina.
“It’s giving us access to thousands of restaurants across the country,” he told QCity Metro.
A DC delicacy
Swayne, a native of Prince George County, Md., grew up eating mambo sauce.
“It is so ingrained in the culture of the D.C. area,” Swayne said. He told QCity Metro that the sauce is like a delicacy in the Washington, D.C., area and that people put it on almost everything.
He said that it’s not uncommon for people in the area to make their own mambo sauce with different flavor profiles.
Swayne’s sauce is sweet and tangy and is most notably paired with chicken, fish and shrimp. Some people use it on hamburgers, hot dogs, salads and even desserts.
From DC to QC
Swayne moved to Charlotte in 2006 and became intrigued by Charlotte’s food scene.
He decided to open Wingzza Food Truck in 2010, where he sold pizza and various flavored chicken wings.
A customer favorite was his mambo sauce-flavored wings.
The mambo sauce became popular among customers, especially those from the D.C. area, he said.
In 2016, Swayne closed the restaurant and food truck. The popularity he earned from the show, along with local support, sparked a growing demand for his mambo sauce, which led him to continue selling it.
“Those bottles of mambo sauce were selling like crazy,” he said. “ I was leaving during my lunch break and making deliveries.”
In 2018, Swayne connected with the general manager of the local US CHEF’STORE in an effort to get his sauce inside their stores.
The general manager, reluctant at first, took a bottle of mambo sauce home to try for himself.
To Swayne’s satisfaction, the general manager pitched the sauce to corporate staff, who approved it to be sold in Charlotte and the Columbia, S.C. location.
“I was super excited,” he said. “I had been selling [the sauce] for eight years, so it was a whole new opportunity that opened up.”
Eric Duff, Charlotte store manager at US CHEF’STORE, met Swayne when he would purchase wings for his food truck and restaurant. The two stayed connected even after he ended the business.
Duff, who uses the sauce himself, told QCity Metro he was happy to see Wingzza Mambo Sauce in the store. Swayne started out bringing four cases a month to the shelf, but now, due to demand, he brings nearly 40 cases a month.
“People are always coming in, asking about the sauce,” Duff said.
Wingzza Mambo Sauce is also available at several restaurants in Charlotte.
Uptown Bar & Lounge in Concourse A of Charlotte Douglas International Airport was the first restaurant to request it.
Other restaurants also use it, including Ten58, Made From Scratch NYC, 7th Restaurant and Lounge, and Cuzzo’s Cuisine, among others.
The recent expansion will see his sauce in eight new markets including:
- Winston Salem (NC)
- Fayetteville (NC)
- Spartanburg (SC)
- Charleston (SC)
- Myrtle Beach (SC)
- Greenville (SC)
- Roanoke (VA)
- Lynchburg (VA)
Swayne hopes to expand his sauce to food chains across the country.
“Every restaurant has a flavor menu. We just want mambo sauce to be included,” he said.
The end goal, Swayne said, is to grow the company and to leave a legacy behind for his two children to one day take over the family business.
“This is their company, and I am the chief angel investor,” he said.
Wingzza Mambo Sauce is available in-store starting at $7 per bottle, $20 per gallon jug and $77 per case.