By Jeff Martin
It started with a furniture business and product line, and now Jeffrey Furash of Burning Asphalt Sauces has become a kind of hot sauce guru of Western New York.
Back in 2003, Furash was in Florida when someone suggested that Burning Asphalt would be a great name for a line of hot sauces. At the time, Furash was building his company Burning Asphalt Racetracks, a mobile outfit that allowed participants to operate radio-controlled vehicles along a track, a popular venture at events like car dealerships.
Furash thought about it and went home. One night in his garage, he tinkered with a recipe or two. Packaging 48 individual bottles, he took them to the Genesee County Fair and sold out within a matter of hours. He made more and took them to the Chautauqua County Fair, selling out in hours.
“I had something,” Furash said recently from South Dayton. “It made sense and people loved it.”
Along with help from his wife Marilyn Sticek, a retired postmaster in Forestville and partner in all Furash business ventures, Furash created Burning Asphalt Sauces. He found a food maker and distributor and it’s been a white-hot success ever since. Starting with three products, the business now offers 100-plus sauce-type products, ranging from BBQ sauces, salsas, ketchup, seasonings, soup, snacks and coffee.
His number one seller, apple barbecue sauce, has been featured on the Food Network. In fact, four other products have been plugged on the network, too.
Furash has come a long way in his business ventures. Back in the 1990s, he came up with the idea of constructing beds in the shape of racecars and dressers in the shape of tool chests. Pit Stop Furniture Company flowed from that idea, one of the first in the country to come up with the concept.
“We were pretty popular, and I think a lot of people in Ellicottville will remember it,” he said.
From furniture and then racetracks and, finally, sauces, Furash has made a name for himself. Based in Western New York, Burning Asphalt products are sold in stores in 35 states. In Ellicottville, his sauces can be found in Earth Arts.
Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment is his Sauces for Soldiers program, whereby his company sends products overseas to service men and women. Revenue generated by a cookbook, “Taste the Attitude,” published by South Dayton Supermarket, goes directly to the Sauces for Soldiers program.
“That program has been there since the beginning,” Furash said, adding that the concept arose after his wife came up with the idea after working in the post office environment and began writing and shipping essential items to service men, including books, toiletries and junk food. Hot sauce was popular among them, and when Furash started the hot sauce business, they began sending their own.
“Military men and women do so much for us, and it’s right to give back,” he said.
Shipments overseas contain a variety of items. The cookbook itself contains 110 recipes, most of which were created and tested by his wife.
The program has attracted much attention and garnered Furash several awards. Last year, Burning Asphalt sent more than 1,000 orders overseas.
The cookbook is available for purchase at South Dayton Supermarket, Evans Bank in Forestville, Willow Creek Winery and Sheridan VFW. It can also be requested at any location that sells Burning Asphalt Sauces, Twisted Vine Gardens, or Soulshine Coffee products.
For more information about the business or to order the cookbook, visit www.burningasphalt.com or www.saucesforsoldiers.com.