Kirkland's Rowdy Roja Salsa
For Jimmy Anderson and Tim Hoskins, high school graduation from Seattle’s University Prep in 1983 didn’t entail a parting. Instead, their friendship ripened to the point that, 25 years later, they created Kirkland-based Rowdy Roja Salsa (mernies.com). In 2007, despite being immersed in their own careers (Hoskins was designing and maintaining marine aquariums, Anderson was working as a radio announcer), the two found time to host salsa-tasting parties after Hoskins decided to “rework” his family’s tomato-canning recipe by adding his own ingredients and marketing the chunky, all-natural product. A year later, with the help of friends who offered business guidance, Anderson and Hoskins found a production facility in Gold Bar, hired a handful of employees, and began distributing mild, medium and hot versions of their salsa to stores such as QFC, Whole Foods, Red Apple Market and Thriftway across Washington and south to Portland. “It’s not your Mexican salsa, or the runny stuff,” Hoskins says, describing Rowdy Roja as “Seattle-style” salsa. “Our salsa is chunky, hot and a little sweet to back up the heat.” It also has an extremely long shelf life. “Unopened, a jar on the shelf can last two years and still be just as fresh as on day one,” Hoskins says. Each glass jar (about $6) is packed with a mix of tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, habaneros, jalapeños, sweet yellow onions, fire-roasted green chiles and spices. The salsa is free of gluten and preservatives, and low in sodium. The website also has a “Rowdy-matic” auto-delivery option by which customers can set up accounts and pick the salsas they would like to have delivered every six weeks ($60/12 jars; $36/six jars; $24/three jars).