Uncle Matty’s Food Company
[BY KRISTINE THOMAS}
Not all food entrepreneurs, or foodpreneurs, aspire to be chefs in Michelin star restaurants. Some look at the food business from a whole different mindset. Orlando based Matt Ryan is just such a culinarian. Ryan took his culinary skills in a new direction and utilizing his strong business and branding skills, he began Uncle Matty’s Food Company. Uncle Matty’s Food Company currently produces a line of sauces that are “revolutionizing flavors one palate at a time” but the future of Uncle Matty’s will go beyond sauces.
Ryan has much to be proud of, as he humbly admits, “We have been extremely fortunate to secure major retailers such as Publix, Winn-Dixie and Lucky’s Market while also advancing our avenues related more to the food side.
However, success doesn’t happen overnight. “There are no shortcuts in building a brand,” Ryan said. When it comes to branding and making people aware of your particular concept, Ryan pointed out, “Orlando still has some work [to do] to catch up with other cities regarding its network infrastructure and the perception of local business.” So while the city of Orlando is playing a bit of catch-up, Uncle Matty’s is growing slowly, yet steadily. “Unfortunately, it’s never fast enough, but every startup must realize the landscape is full of bankrupt companies that rolled the dice expanding too quickly,” Ryan shared. “It is a tough business and requires nearly double the work one initially estimates. Like many businesses these days, the margins are small so multiple streams of revenue are critical.”
Matt Ryan surrounds himself with mentors that keep him both grounded and focused on his business. So what does the future of Uncle Matty’s Food Company look like? It would seem that Ryan seeks to join the ever-growing food truck business trend. What better way to promote Uncle Matty’s Signature Red Sauce or Mustard Sauce, than on the foods they’re meant to complement. And while a food truck can certainly be less costly than a brick and mortar restaurant, there are still those unexpected costs.
Ryan tells us he is unaware of many startups whose budgets were even close to being precise, especially when resources are limited. “There are so many moving parts it is nearly impossible for them to function flawlessly. I have done much of the work on the truck myself in an attempt to save money. When you are dealing with heavy equipment and large and varying quantities of retail products, the cost is often hard to accurately wrap your hands around.”
If the cost of getting started were not enough of a challenge, there are many other business aspects to consider when starting a food business in Central Florida. There are numerous regulations and the paperwork may seem endless. From a retail side, Ryan said, “Labeling requirements are unclear at times at both the state and federal level from a legal standpoint.”
It might seem like a seamless process with the number of food trucks popping up nowadays, but when these regulations vary from city to city, county to county, and even at the state and federal levels, the process is anything but seamless. Ryan suggests, “Permits from city to city should be consolidated to the state or county levels.”
Though Central Florida is not there yet, Ryan reminds foodpreneurs that despite the enormous list of “to-do” items and countless headaches, “Nothing in this world of value comes without great sacrifice, so you keep that in mind and punch your list out one step at a time.” His mindful approach to food and business is most certainly something to learn from.
Start small, as he’d done with his branding and line of sauces, and then grow as you are able, as in the case of Ryan’s food truck. “It made sense for us to push our products on the food it was initially created for while being able to influence store openings, branding when needed, local gatherings, and support charitable functions.” Uncle Matty’s sauces can be found online and at many major retailers and will be rolling down the street in food trucks soon enough, and Ryan suggests a fast-casual concept may one day be on the horizon.
UNCLE MATTY’S FOOD CO – (256) 600-2201 – unclemattysfoodco.com
Kristine Thomas is the Executive Director of the ORL Food Lab. The Lab is dedicated to celebrating Central Florida’s extraordinary culinary community; learn more at www.ORLFoodLab.org.