Awarski keeps his brother’s memory alive with Stingers BBQ, Rubs & Seasoning

“We give you the flavor without the salt,” said Brian Awarski of Cheektowaga, who develops the family business, Stingers BBQ, Rubs and Seasoning, while keeping alive the memory of his late brother Greg, who was an integral cog in the foundation of the company.

A diverse range of low-sodium and almost entirely gluten-free seasonings and marinades are on the menu at Stingers. Since 2018, Stingers has gained a foothold locally, having provided a wide range of catering services prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as Brian and Greg worked hard to turn their brainstorming idea into a full-fledged business. With Greg having a good grasp of finance and promotion, and Brian gaining knowledge of the business through experience, Stingers won the 2018 Taste of Lancaster competition and provided a catering service to Lilly Belle Meads in Lancaster before becoming its own entity.
The business gradually shifted largely to offering rubs and seasonings, with word of mouth and a growing social media presence serving as good promoters.
Brian said, “The [positive] response we got, I believe [the business] could go far. It’s nice when you get those compliments. The greatest joy is when people use (seasonings and rubs) for other things and recipes. It’s versatile. I am grateful for all the support.”
Stingers introduces two new flavors for the Spring/Summer season, Nashville Hot and Tex-Mex to accompany its existing flavors of Sugar Shack, Mediterranean Medley, Burger Blast, Steak Shake and Kornerstone Cowboy. Awarski said future possibilities could include the introduction of dessert seasonings.
Stingers prides itself on offering something for everyone, according to Awarski, and it collaborates with other local businesses. Stingers Sugar Shack flavor incorporates maple sugar from North Java; while a coffee rub uses coffee beans from the Kornerstone Cafe in East Aurora.
Current locations where Stingers products are available include Pott’s (Deli) Express in Cheektowaga, Valints Meats in Lancaster, Dilly Dallies Spices and Sauces in Springville, Sgt. Hot pepper sauces in Lewiston.
Brian, a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Cheektowaga and a member of WNY’s General Pulaski Association, is also a staple at various holiday markets and farmers’ markets in the area. Stingers have a presence at Bella Rose Winery in Lewiston and appeared at the Buffalo Holiday Market. Its products will be available at summer farmers’ markets in Hamburg (Camp Road location, Saturday morning); Eden (Tuesday evening) and Warsaw (Wednesday evening).
A healthier alternative
“We give you the flavor without the salt,” Awarski said, noting WNY residents’ high blood pressure rates. He said many Stingers competitors use salt because of the ease and affordability with which this ingredient can be implemented. However, Awarski said his company is focusing on healthier aspects, without “skimping on cost.”
“That’s the difference between us and the others,” Awarski said. “If you had barbecue sauce, you could mix our products and get a good result. I’m proud of the low sodium or no sodium options we offer. Most Cajun ingredients (elsewhere) contain salt. J ‘ve had clients come up to me at events and they say they’ve used our (products) with maple sugar, a number of things. Everything we have is extremely tasty.
Awarski watched the Cleveland Clinic’s description of the term “low sodium” online, one of many learning experiences he says enhanced his own knowledge.
A beacon out of sadness
Brian still remembers the early days of the fledgling business, competing in local barbecue competitions that served as a form of brotherly bond. Then, after the business endured through the Covid outbreak, Brian received support from family members following Greg’s untimely passing in July 2021. The initial feeling of depression and sadness became a beacon for Brian , who attributes much of the company’s success to his late, younger brother.
“(Greg’s passing) made me wonder, wonder if [Stingers] was something that could go on,” Awarski said. “But it’s something he absolutely wanted me to continue.” Greg [a 1997 graduate of JFK HS] had a master’s degree from Canisius in commerce, and he was so knowledgeable about the financial side of things and marketing. Even now I go through his old notebooks and find all these valuable ingredients and other ideas.
“He was so passionate about things, so knowledgeable about tenderizing meats. It was the competition that always brought out the best in us (in the trials). He launched the website ( Family support was there immediately (after Greg passed away). »
Learning the tax and other financial nuances of business proved to be a necessary agenda item for Brian. “I had to keep going. It brought the family closer. Literally everyone participated, my aunts, my uncle, everyone. I love my family and my friends. It was absolutely amazing. My cousin’s sons are 7 and 10, and even they helped in the markets.”
Stingers uses Broadway Market’s certified cooperative kitchen to prepare its products, a site used by many local small businesses.
According to Awarski, expectations for the Stingers continue to rise. “The possibilities are truly limitless,” Awarski said. “There’s so much creativity you can bring to the fore…Greg would be happy to know where things are headed for the company.”
Stingers, says Awarski, is “something you need in your practice.”
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