How The Waterloo BBQ Sauce Was Invented

By MariJo Kolze

More than 37 years ago, The Waterloo BBQ began its journey. In 1984, Bette and JT Thomas opened the restaurant with the goal of providing Northern Californians with a place where they could share food and create unforgettable memories. In addition to the great food and atmosphere, the Waterloo BBQ sauce is what keeps people coming back. It wasn't until we discovered how sacred it was that we planned to bottle and sell our barbecue sauce.

Despite all odds, Bette and JT Thomas, the owners of the Waterloo BBQ, were unsure of just how far their restaurant would go when they first opened. Let alone, they didn't realize how far their barbecue sauce would go. The true creation of our original barbecue sauce was not discovered until customers began raving about it. Our barbecue sauce was so popular that people kept trying to get a hold of it. They insisted on getting the recipe and having us bottle the barbecue sauce. We had customers who would even bring their own containers to fill with our barbecue sauce. Owner Bette Thomas would fill up customers' containers in the restaurant so they could take some home. In response to high demand for our barbecue sauce, we began bottling and packaging the sauce.

One of the challenges owner Bette and JT faced was packaging the sauce for distribution. Packaging was a much more challenging task back then. The lack of advanced technology made it difficult to create SKU barcodes for the bottles as well as other bottle-related problems. There also were many qualifications and requirements that needed to be met. For instance, they had to make sure the barbecue sauce met all FDA and health requirements. Although bottling the barbecue sauce took a bit of effort, it was well worth it.

One of the best things about the original Waterloo BBQ sauce is that it is made with love and is part of our family. Bette Thomas' original Milano family recipe gives the barbecue sauce its distinct flavor. Both her biological father and her stepfather came up with alterations to the Milano recipe to make it uniquely her own. The original Waterloo BBQ Sauce is a delicious blend of Italian herbs and spices combined with the best of the fresh Northern Californian roots. The success of our BBQ sauce is continuing to grow and would not be possible without the love and support of both our family and customers.