RICHMOND, Va. -- Ukrop's Super Markets' in-store grills now are cooking up sausage and pepper sandwiches by Dominic's of New York, the most recent link in the two-year relationship the 27-unit grocery chain has developed with the local company.
After a successful test run in selected Ukrop's units, the sandwich roll-out was speeded up with the development of a new, pre-cooked version of the product Dominic's introduced last fall. The roll-out of the locally revered sandwiches was completed in January, according to Nancy Wingfield, category manager for prepared foods, for the chain.
"We probably wouldn't have begun offering it at all the grills if Dominic's hadn't come up with the pre-cooked sausage and peppers and onions. It makes it easier for us, convenient for the stores," she said.
"Naturally, it cuts down on preparation time, but it also keeps everything consistent, both the quality and the portions. It helps a lot with portion control because of the way it's packed. The onions and peppers are packed to correspond with the amount of sausage you're using," Wingfield said.
She referred to the fact that a packs of eight link sausages go with one pack of the pre-cooked onions and peppers, and they're heated together. The sausage and pepper "kits" are shipped frozen.
"It's a very good product and they've built a name for it, which helps," Wingfield added.
Ukrop's sells the sausage sandwiches under the Dominic's brand at its 18 grills and also in stores that have an Italian hot-food counter. At those locations in the store, colorful signs say, "Enjoy a Dominic's of New York Authentic Italian Sausage Sandwich (served with peppers and onions)."
The sausage company, which had its roots in the Italian street festivals of New York City, has made itself known here with restaurant/carts that sell a variety of hot and cold sandwiches.
Dominic's parks its carts in front of such high traffic places as Lowe's home improvement stores and other busy retail outlets. The company now has 46 sandwich carts in the Mid-Atlantic area, some of them franchised. Each cart rings up about $6,000 a week in sales, said John Felico, Dominic's president.
The sausage is made for Dominic's at a Maryland facility and is based on a family recipe that has been copyrighted, said Felico. Another company cooks the sausages and the pepper-onion mixture.
"It took me a good year to find a company that could do the onions and peppers so they were just like I wanted them," Felico said.
The patience paid off, because Wingfield at Ukrop's said she thinks the flavor of the pre-cooked, pepper-and-onion mixture and the pre-cooked sausage is as good as the that of the freshly cooked products.
Ukrop's retails the sandwiches for $3.99, the same price they are at Dominic's carts. While Wingfield said customer response has been good, she said it's too early to comment on sales. But, in earlier interviews, Ukrop's officials have said they believe local brands are very important. The retailer also sells Dominic's hot dogs at its grills and packaged, fresh Dominic's sausage in its meat departments.
Felico launched Dominic's of New York here in 1994 with a business partner. His family had sold sausage and pepper sandwiches for years at New York City street festivals, beginning in the 1950s, he said.