By David Stenklyft, Wausau Pilot and Review
Around seven years ago, lifelong Wausau native Kim Lemke was finishing up his 20th year as a bartender at Day’s Bowl a Dome when the restaurant manager added smoked ribs to the Saturday night menu.
Lemke decided the ribs needed a homemade barbecue sauce to really make them sing. The sauce he made was ultimately so popular that customers began stealing the samples on the tables.
“I figured if it was good enough to steal, it must be good enough to sell.” Lemke said. “Some customers offered trades for homemade pickles, jams, jellies and other items.”
That recipe was the original flavor of Kim’s BS Sauce, which now has seven flavors and is sold at more than 100 retail outlets in Wisconsin.
The first outlet to pick up the sauce was Town Line Market in Wausau. Lemke said that’s important, because they’re both hometown small businesses working to serve local residents.
“I don’t have connections to the big retailers,” he said. “I focus on the small stores, and that is so essential for all of us small companies.”
Without local support from Wausau-area businesses, Lemke said, his business wouldn’t be where it is today.
The business started as a family process, with everyone pitching in. They used the business development center on 72nd Avenue in Wausau starting out. Even now, when they have some assistance with packaging, the company still produces 100 percent of its product in Wisconsin.
“We are very proud of that,” Lemke said.
The sauce is sold across the state, in cities such as La Crosse, Green Bay, and the Wisconsin Dells.
So, what’s on the horizon for the “Sauce Boss?”
Lemke said he is looking into future expansion and is considering options such as a food truck or storefront moving forward.
“We continue to do three main food events each year, a Rib Fest activity, the Wisconsin Valley Fair, and with the Elks Lodge for the Art in the Park,” Lemke said.
On March 10, Lemke is working with the Elks Club for a chili cookoff to raise funds for Elks’ charities.
“But you need to incorporate one of the Kim’s BS Sauces to enter,” Lemke explained.
Be on the lookout for Kim and the BS Sauce display at a local outlet. You also can follow the Boss on Facebook.