It's been almost thirty years, and I am still thrilled
to serve you folks who love our regional American foods.
Here's a brief history about where we've been, recent changes, and the future.
In 1984, I moved my family to Norfolk, Virginia and opened a small healthy deli - The Salad Gourmet. A real family business, I can remember Adrian, my nine year old son, standing on a milk crate ringing the register. To make ends meet, we began serving a delicious New Orleans style soup - French Market ’18 bean’ Soup. To help pay the rent, we decided to start packaging our version of this popular New Orleans soup in a dry mix format for the many tourists who came to our counter. The idea worked so well that, during the next two years, we introduced five more regional American bean soup mixes.
At that time there were several other companies offering the same kind of products. Always trying to do better, we decided to improve upon what we saw in the marketplace by creating bean soup mixes that celebrated famous American themes. To set our mixes apart, we included a short story or "history" located on the back of each tag. A few years later we contracted with a local artist to create pen and ink sketches for the front of each tag. Tourists who bought the mixes while visiting our restaurant began calling to request more by mail.
In 1987 we sold the restaurant and created Purely American Foods, a company dedicated to hand-cafting the finest bean soup mixes each celebrating a famous American theme. From that point up until the spring of 2015 Purely American Foods expanded twice growing in size and in sales by adding additional bean based brands such as the innovative Slow Cooker Gourmet series of healthy dinner kits. We also purchased Peter's Beach BBQ sauce from our friend Peter Holland and introduced a line of incredibly crunchy Virgina Peanuts. These were made by hand in small batches by our good friend Fred Parker. His son Bob continues that craft today making each batch using their time honored recipes.
I moved the business to Athens, Ohio in 2007 to be more centrally located to serve an expanding base of customers. In the spring of 2015, with family grown, I realized it was time for a major change and sold the Slow Cooker Gourmet brand and the hang tag bean soup brand to Fred and Debbie at Leonard Mountain. Keeping the Virginia Peanuts and the Peter's Carolina style BBQ sauce brands, I continue serving loyal customers directly via the internet and through specialty food stores.
Look for new items during the next few years - additional great finds in regional foods from across America.
We appreciate your business! It's Still Great! Ray Leard