Less than three years from when he first started testing flavors in his North Raleigh kitchen, Neal McTighe has landed a deal that many established entrepreneurs only dream about: Nello’s Sauce, his handcrafted line of fresh-tasting pasta sauces, will be sold throughout the 27-store South region of Whole Foods.
The deal followed the artisinal brand’s strong performance in the Triangle market and a scattering of food-obsessed locations across the South, where it outsells such stalwarts as Newman’s Own. By the end of November, all four flavors—including the new Provencal Pomodoro, flavored with thyme and lavender—will be sold in nearly 100 locations across nine states.
McTighe, dubbed Nello by his Italian friends, based his Original All-Purpose Marinara on a hearty sauce made by his family’s matriarch, his great-grandmother Angelina Freda. She arrived at Ellis Island on Christmas Eve, 1919, and held her growing family together with the familiar tastes of home.
McTighe went to Italy for a short-term study abroad program during college but wound up staying three years. In his great-grandmother’s hometown of Carife, near Napoli, and elsewhere, he tasted the vibrant sauces that later informed his namesake brand.
As sales increase, so does the company’s commitment to supporting hunger relief programs through the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
“It’s important to us that everyone have access to healthy food,” says McTighe, who aims to launch an entrepreneurship mentoring program with the organization in January. “If we can help people gain skills to feed themselves and their families, we’ll be one step closer to ending the crisis of hunger in our community.”