Founder: Chris Bailey.
Year founded: 2016
Product description: Vegetable broth at its most wholesome and rich.
Yearly sales: Under $200,000
Is it profitable?: Yes.
Available at: New Seasons Market, Market of Choice, select Whole Foods and Food Fight!
Long before he launched Pozole to the People, Chris Bailey saw food as the impetus for family gatherings. Bailey grew up in Hawaii, where his mom and his aunt ran a Thai restaurant. He'd often hang out in the restaurant after school, and the kitchen was usually full of family members.
"They would talk, they would pick herbs, they would do all the prep together," says Bailey, "then they'd cook and serve food."
But it was ultimately his dad's culinary history that lead to Bailey's startup soup company. His father grew up in Arizona, where pozole, a hominy-based stew that originated in Mexico, was commonly served at family gatherings. "It was one of those dishes that was a vital part of the community," says Bailey. "Even as I grew up in Hawaii, I had a deep kinship to dishes like that."
Bailey's recipe that he now sells through Pozole to the People is based on the red broth he grew up eating—chilies, fresh hominy made by local tortilla company Three Sisters, vegetarian stock and spices all slow stewed into a cozy, hearty broth. Bailey markets his vegan, gluten-free broth as a meal starter.
"I noticed there are a lot of food products out there that emphasize eating on the go," he says. "I wanted to do a product that really encouraged people to stop and gather around the table."
Bailey first came to Portland when he attended Lewis & Clark College, and later launched Pozole to the People through a food startup class he took at Portland Community College. Through the program, Bailey was able set up a distribution deal with New Seasons. For the first year, Bailey made all the company's pozole out of the Portland Mercado's commissary kitchen, which rents commercial equipment to small-scale food businesses. Now, Bailey works with a co-packager and makes two pozole broths, one with green chiles and another with red. Though he hopes to expand Pozole to the People's market to California, Bailey, at least for the moment, says he's content.
"Early on, I think I had the expectation of 'Let's it take it nationally, let's build it to be huge,'" he says. "But honestly, I'm not in any rush, because I want to do justice to the product and I guess honor the memory of the dish for me."
Guilty pleasure snack: "Crinkle-cut french fries. They are the ideal delivery vehicle for just about anything."
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