By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, [email protected]
Despite Mayor Muriel Bowser’s controversial denunciation of mambo sauce as a D.C. staple last November, most Washingtonians laud the flavor as a true District flavor that adds pizzazz to dishes from the carry out to homemade delights. Now, having recently teamed up with local husband and wife entrepreneurs Charles and Arsha Jones, owners of Capital City Mambo Sauce, Papa John’s chains in the DMV are giving residents a chance to have the District’s dip on wings, chicken poppers or on the side.
The AFRO spoke to the Jones family about how Capital City Mambo Sauce came to be, and their most recent business expansion with a nationally renowned franchise such as Papa Johns.
“We got the idea when we moved out to the suburbs and we loved mambo sauce and couldn’t get it in the area we were living in. One day Arsha had came out and said, ‘Maybe I should try making this at home for the family,’ because we have four boys as well,” Charles Jones told the AFRO. “And pretty much we used to have tastings with our family and our friends, and somebody was like, ‘Y’all should sell this.’ And one thing led to another and we ended up selling our own product online.”
Arsha Jones weighed in explaining that the reason why she and her husband decided to sell their product was about providing for their growing family.
“Our family was growing, and we know we needed to supplement our income. So really that was the only goal, was just bringing more into the house and to be able to take care of our family,” she explained.
Since their business launch and boom in 2011, the Jones have seen tremendous growth of the Capital City Mambo Sauce brand, which went from their kitchen, to online, to now selling their product in 630 grocery stores.
Collaborating with Papa John’s is the newest, and arguably largest venture in the Capital City Mambo Sauce expansion.
“This is probably the biggest deal in terms of partnership and working with restaurant chains,” Arsha Jones told the AFRO. “A company that knows us reached out to the franchise owners. Some of the locally owned and operated Papa John’s restaurants thought it’d be a great idea to partner together and get this local flavor and have it offered through the Papa John’s channels in this area. We thought it was an excellent idea.”
Besides the great opportunity, the Joneses felt that the collaboration spreads the mambo sauce wealth further.
“Papa John’s serves a lot of the communities that our product is popular in anyway and then it also would give a chance to give people who may have not heard of our product, a chance to try it,” Arsha Jones said.
Those who haven’t tried mambo sauce might not understand why the product is important or why this new collaboration with local Papa Johns is a big deal, yet the Joneses explained the significance.
“It’s a sense of pride and it comes from the fact that outsiders tend to have this one perception of what Washington, D.C. is. They think it’s politics, and government and White House and whatever goes on down there, but there is a huge community of people in Washington, D.C. who were born and raised here, and we have slangs, dialects, style, music, dances and food,” Arsha Jones, a native Washingtonian, told the AFRO.
“And while other urban cities, like New York and Philadelphia, all have certain food that is associated with their community, mambo sauce is relatively underground, but it’s something that makes us feel like home, so it’s important that our food product- a product of Washington, D.C.- is put on a platform where it can be respected the same way a Chicago deep dish pizza can be respected, or the same way a New York slice of pizza or New York bagel can be respected,” she said.
“Our main goal is to make sure that we’re being authentic to our community, but also giving our product and our community a platform, so people outside of this area can know that there is a whole lot of culture in this area,” Arsha Jones emphasized.
With incredible growth from the kitchen to local Papa Johns locations, the Joneses hope to encourage other creative entrepreneurs to start selling their own products.
“We want people to know that there’s help out here if you really want it, and don’t just think that is just your family sauce and that no one will buy it, or that it’s just a secret for you guys, because you just never know,” Arsha Jones said. “You might be one of those brands that turns into a Sweet Baby Ray’s or Texas Pete hot sauce.
For more information on Capital City Mambo Sauce the Joneses encourage people to try their product, particularly with the new Papa John’s collaboration.
“We challenge anybody to go out there to Papa John’s to try the chicken wings and the chicken poppers and give us some feedback on our website and social media at shopcapitalcity.com,” Charles Jones told the AFRO.