Original Published on Nov 16, 2022 at 22:39
Award winning sauce jars are too heavy to ship
By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
THUNDER BAY, ONT. — Donato’s Bakery is a family-run business tucked into a corner space beside Renco Foods. Owned by brothers Jamey and Donny Bruno, the neighbourhood bakery has become one of Thunder Bay’s best artisanal local food providers.
For more than 28 years, Donny has worked the “night shift” baking bread, buns, pies and pastries for their daily customers. Located next to their large bread ovens is a small stove where a large pot of homemade traditional marinara sauce bubbles — every day. It was this pot of sauce that was discovered by the large grocery chain Metro, which launched Donato’s sauce into the larger grocery market through Metro’s Locally Sourced program.
For the second time since 2019, Metro invited Donato’s Bakery to participate in their Spotlight on Local initiative where the sauce from Donato’s was featured in Toronto at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
This year, Donato’s Marinara Sauce took home the fair’s People’s Choice award for the second time.
Linda DeLuca, a member of Donato’s bakery team, attended the fair to promote Donato’s Marinara Sauce as part of the Metro exhibit.
“We sold out,” she said. “We had 46 cases and we sold them all.”
DeLuca handed out samples of the marinara sauce which quickly became a favourite among the fair visitors and participants.
“It’s a pretty basic sauce,” she said. “The kids love it. In fact, one kid grabbed seven samples and just ate them right there.”
“The sauce is an old variation of a recipe from the beginning of time,” said Jamey Bruno. “We had the sauce going for years. Metro wanted to do something with local businesses, so we took the original sauce recipe and we did a bunch of testing. We sent it away to a university to get tested and got all the nutritional values. We made a label, stuck it on a jar and brought it to Metro and Safeway.”
Bruno says their marinara sauce has been selling in both Safeway and Metro grocery chains since 2018 and can be found on shelves in Renco Foods, Centennial Foods, Maltese Grocery, Fresco’s Deli and George’s Market.
“The only people that didn’t want it was Walmart,” he said.
Meanwhile, shipping the heavy jars around has proved challenging.
“It’s super good exposure for our product in southern Ontario . . . but it’s impossible to ship it because it weighs so much,” he said. “I can barely get shipped to Nipigon, so I can’t get it anywhere else beyond Thunder Bay.”
The bakery operates six days a week and the sauce is made daily on the small stove. The brothers and their staff fill 48 jars of sauce daily, seal them and label them all by hand. A second product produced in the bakery is a spice blend that they also jar and label by hand on-site.
“The spices that we use are exactly the spice that we use in the sauce . . . and it just so happens that it just works unbelievably as a garnish on top of pizza or on meat. It’s wicked,” he said. “Maybe the secret to it is there’s no sodium in it; you have to add that yourself.”