Familiar Creatures

Duke’s Mayo launches event to drive traffic to Richmond restaurants


Richmond BizSense | July 22, 2021


By Noah Daboul

Pairing its marketing clout with another regional food staple, a hometown mayonnaise brand is looking to drive traffic to Richmond-area restaurants as they continue to emerge from the pandemic slowdown and return to in-person service.

Duke’s Mayo, owned by Sauer Brands, this week launched its first “Hot Tomato Summer,” a week-long event highlighting Richmond restaurants and focusing on how they are using the cult-classic mayo on their menus in dishes that also must incorporate tomatoes.

“It started with the idea of how to celebrate tomato season and support the Richmond community of restaurants,” said Rebecca Lupesco, Duke’s brand manager of mayo.

The effort, which ends Sunday, involves 10 restaurants across Richmond: Brenner Pass, Fuzzy Cactus, Ruby Scoops, Saison, Lunch and Supper, Millie’s, Union Market, North End Juice Co., Common House and ZZQ.

Some of these menu items include a tomato salad at Brenner Pass, a fried bologna and pimento grilled cheese at Fuzzy Cactus and even Duke’s flavored ice cream at Ruby Scoops.


The Heirloom Tomato Sandwich at Union Market.


Local marketing firm Familiar Creatures also was involved in the campaign.

The Duke’s story started in 1917 with Eugenia Duke selling sandwiches with her homemade mayonnaise at Fort Sevier near Greenville, South Carolina. The brand’s ties to Richmond trace to 1929, when she sold Duke’s to the Richmond-based C.F. Sauer Co., and has had a home in the city ever since. In 2019, C.F. Sauer Co. was sold to a private equity firm for an undisclosed sum.

Hot Tomato Summer also involves both Duke’s and Sauer Brands donating $5,000 each to locally-based Shalom Farms. The nonprofit has about 13 acres across the greater Richmond area where it grows produce and also operates pop-up produce markets, distributes produce to corner stores, offers cooking classes and works heavily with food pantries and distributors.

Dominic Barrett, executive director of Shalom Farms, said that Duke’s had supported the farm in prior years and there was already an existing relationship between the companies.

“They reached out to us and said ‘Hey, we’re putting together this campaign and we’d really like to use it as an excuse to support your work,’ and we were really grateful,” Barrett said.


The Basil Avocado Toast at North End Juice Co.



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