Awarski keeps his brother’s memory alive with Stingers BBQ, Rubs & Seasoning
A diverse selection of spices and rubs that are uniquely low in sodium and almost entirely gluten-free feature on the menu at Stingers. Since 2018, Stingers has gained a foothold locally after offering a wide range of catering services prior to the COVID-19 pandemic as Brian and Greg worked hard to grow their brainstormed idea into a full-fledged business. With Greg having a good knowledge of finance and advertising and Brian gaining knowledge of the business through experience, Stingers won the 2018 Taste of Lancaster competition and offered food service at Lilly Belle Meads in Lancaster before branching out as a separate entity .
The business gradually transitioned largely to offering rubs and spices, with word of mouth and a growing social media presence serving as good promotional vehicles.
Brian said, “The [positive] Answer we got I believe [the business] could go far. It’s nice when you get compliments like that. The greatest joy is when people use (spices and rubs) for other things and recipes. It’s versatile. I’m grateful for all the support.”
Stingers is introducing two new flavors for the Spring/Summer season, Nashville Hot and Tex-Mex, to complement its existing Sugar Shack, Mediterranean Medley, Burger Blast, Steak Shake and Kornerstone Cowboy flavors. Awarski said future possibilities could include the introduction of dessert spices.
According to Awarski, Stingers prides itself on having something for everyone and works with other local businesses. Stingers’ Sugar Shack flavor contains maple sugar from North Java; while a coffee rub uses coffee beans from the Kornerstone Cafe in East Aurora.
Current locations where Stingers products are available include Pott’s (Deli) Express in Cheektowaga, Valints Meats in Lancaster, Dilly Dallies Spices and Sauces in Springville, Sgt. Peppers Hot Sauces in Lewiston.
Brian, a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Cheektowaga and a member of the General Pulaski Association of WNY, is also a fixture at various holiday and farmers’ markets in the area. Stingers has a presence at Bella Rose Winery in Lewiston and has performed at the Buffalo Holiday Market. Its products will be available at summer markets in Hamburg (Camp Road location, Saturday morning); Eden (Tuesday evening) and Warsaw (Wednesday evening).
A healthier alternative
“We’re giving you the flavor without the salt,” Awarski said, noting the notably high blood pressure readings among WNY residents. Saying that many of Stingers’ competitors use salt because the ingredient is easy and affordable to use, Awarski said his business is focusing on healthier aspects while “not skimping on the cost.”
“That’s the difference between us and others,” said Awarski. “If you’ve had barbecue sauce, you can mix in our products and get a good result. I am proud of the low sodium or no sodium options that we offer. Most Cajun ingredients (elsewhere) contain salt. I’ve had clients come up to me at events and they say they’ve used our (products) with maple sugar, any number of things. Everything we have is extremely aromatic.
Awarski observed the Cleveland Clinic’s description of the term “low sodium” online, one of many learning experiences that he said enhanced his own knowledge.
A beacon of sadness
Brian well remembers the early days of the fledgling business, when he competed in local barbecue competitions, which served as a kind of brotherly bond. Then, with the business surviving through the Covid outbreak, Brian received the support of family members following Greg’s untimely death in July 2021. The initial sense of depression and sadness has become a beacon for Brian, who attributes much of the business success to his later, younger brother.
“[Greg died]got me asking myself, asking if [Stingers] was something that could go further,” Awarski said. “But he would have absolutely wanted me to continue. Greg [a 1997 graduate of JFK HS] had a masters degree from canisius in business administration and he had so much knowledge about the financial aspects of things and marketing. To this day I still go through his old notebooks and find all these precious ingredients and other ideas.
“He was so passionate about things, so knowledgeable about tenderizing meat. It was competition that always brought out the best in us (at events). He launched the website (https://stingers-bbq-rubs-seasonings.constantcontactsites.com/). The family support was there immediately (after Greg’s death).”
Learning about taxes and other financial nuances of business has proven to be a necessary agenda item for Brian. “I had to keep going. It brought the family closer. Literally everyone helped, my aunts, my uncle, everyone. I love my family and friends. It was absolutely amazing. My cousin’s sons are 7 and 10 and even they helped out in the markets.”
Stingers uses Broadway Market’s certified co-op kitchen, which is used by many local small businesses, for product preparation.
According to Awarski, expectations for Stingers continue to rise. “The possibilities really are limitless,” said Awarski. “There’s so much creativity that can be generated… Greg would love to know where things are going for the business.”
Stingers, Awarski says, are “something you need in your closet.”
You can find more information on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Stingersbbq/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/stingersbbq) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/stingersbbq/?hl =de).