Local entrepreneur dips into salsa business

The Daddy G’s Rockin’ Salsa logo. (Photos by Burl Rolett)

The Daddy G’s Rockin’ Salsa logo. (Photos by Burl Rolett)

A self-proclaimed “old Richmond rocker” is trying to plug his startup salsa business into the local brewery scene.

Chris Galiffa in September launched Daddy G’s Rockin’ Salsa with a plan to make his product, which he cooks up at his Mechanicsville home, the official salsa of local breweries.

“I wanted to really try and go for the privately owned, fun and funky vendors, and the people that embrace the local craft beer,” Galiffa said.

His brewery distribution plan is made viable because breweries that do not operate kitchens are allowed to sell prepackaged food items.

Galiffa credits Midnight Brewing Co. owner Trae Cairns with the brewery strategy.

The salsa is available at about 10 breweries and neighborhood grocery stores. They include Strangeways Brewing and Isley Brewing Co. Isley Brewing owner Mike Isley recently ordered about 50 units total of Daddy’s G’s two flavors.

“It’s been a great hit,” Isley said. “This is the first time we’ve purchased a month’s supply. We were going through six of each in three or four days.”

Chris Galiffa, left.

Chris Galiffa and his wife, Vicky.

Although the product is new to the market, the concept has been brewing for a decade longer than the lagers and ales it pairs with.

Daddy G’s traces its origin to the Texas-Wisconsin Border Café, a restaurant that operated at the current Bellytimber Tavern location in the Fan. Galiffa, a Benedictine and VCU graduate, said he would drop by the Mexican bar and grill three to four nights a week well into his early adulthood.

Texas-Wisconsin closed in 1999, but the restaurant’s salsa outlived its storefront: The cafe’s owners passed the recipe down to its employees. Galiffa got it from a neighbor who worked as a waitress at Texas-Wisconsin.

That was about 10 years ago, and Galiffa has been tinkering with it ever since.

The flagship Daddy’s G’s Rockin’ Salsa shares several ingredients with the Texas-Wisconsin salsa, Galiffa said, but he’s made several of his own modifications, including adding garlic and gluten-free soy sauce.

“It’s really a left turn away from a spaghetti sauce,” Galiffa said.

Between the “Rockin’” and “Smokin’” flavors, Daddy G’s has sold about 1,000 jars in the past two months at a wholesale price between $3 and $3.50, Galiffa said. The salsa retails for about $5.

Galiffa has been pleasantly surprised by his sales and is weighing options for cranking up his business volume from its current level of about 10 gallons a week. Galiffa, who works full-time as a marketing director at Metis Companies, makes the product on Sundays, packages it on Mondays and delivers it on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Galiffa said the immediate next step is adding a vendor on Richmond’s Southside. He is also ready to order 5,000 packages and lids for his product, a minimum order he was able to negotiate down from 14,000 containers, which Galiffa estimated could take his four-month-old startup about two years to sell.

Meanwhile, Galiffa is staying busy on the product development side of the business. He’d like to add a roasted salsa and a salsa verde to the lineup, but there’s no timetable for their rollout.

“To hang out with these guys,” Galiffa said, pointing to the Daddy G’s display at Bellevue’s Little House Green Grocery, “it’s got to be really good.”

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Meg Rock

Congratulations on your success…Love that you are keeping The Border alive and rockin’!!!!

Mark Deutsch

Good for you Chris. That is some G-O-O-D salsa. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying it at Isley. Delish. I’ve had the opportunity to know Chris through his membership in BNI & through his graphic arts skills … now through his culinary genius. Keep it up Chris.