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


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“We’re giving you the flavor without the salt,” said Brian Awarski of Cheektowaga who is growing 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 company’s foundation.

A diverse array of seasonings and rubs, which are uniquely low in sodium and almost entirely gluten-free are on the menu at Stingers. Since 2018, Stingers has gained a foothold locally, having provided a wide array of catering services prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as Brian and Greg worked hard to grow their brainstorming idea into a full fledged business. With Greg having a good knowledge of financials and promotion, and Brian gaining knowledge of the business through experience, Stingers won the 2018 Taste of Lancaster competition and provided food service at Lilly Belle Meads in Lancaster before branching off as its own entity.
The business gradually transitioned in large part 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’ve gotten, 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’m grateful for all the support.”
Stingers is introducing 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 introducing dessert seasonings.
Stingers has and does pride 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 utilizes coffee grains from 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. Peppers Hot Sauces in Lewiston.
Brian, a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School in Cheektowaga and member of the General Pulaski Association of WNY, is also a fixture at various holiday markets and farmers markets in the area. Stingers have a presence at Bella Rose Winery in Lewiston and have appeared at the Buffalo Holiday Market. Its products will be available at summer farmers market locations in Hamburg (Camp Road location, Saturday mornings); Eden (Tuesday evenings) and Warsaw (Wednesday evenings).
A healthier alternative
“We’re giving you the flavor without the salt,” said Awarski, noting the prominently high blood pressure rates of WNY residents. He said many competitors of Stingers utilize salt because of the ease and affordability in which that ingredient can be implemented. However , Awarski said his business focuses on healthier aspects, while “not skimping on cost.”
“That’s the difference between us and others,” said Awarski. “If you had barbecue sauce, you can mix in our products and get a good result. I’m proud of the low-sodium or no-sodium options we offer. Most Cajun ingredients (elsewhere) have salt. I’ve had customers come up to me at events and they say they used our (products) with maple sugar, any number of things. Everything we have is extremely flavorful.”
Awarski observed online the Cleveland Clinic description of the term “low sodium,” one of many learning experiences that he said has bettered his own knowledge.
A beacon out of the sadness
Brian still remembers the early days of the fledgling business, participating in local barbecue competitions that served as a form of brotherly bonding. Then, after the business endured during the Covid outbreak, Brian received the support of family members after Greg’s untimely passing in July 2021. The initial feeling of depression and sadness has become a beacon for Brian, who attributes much of the business’ success to his late, younger brother.
“(Greg’s passing) made me question myself, question if [Stingers] was something that could keep going,” said Awarski. “But it’s something he absolutely would have wanted me to continue. Greg [a 1997 graduate of JFK HS] had a master’s degree from Canisius in business, and he had so much knowledge of the financial aspect of things, and marketing. Even now I go through his old notebooks of him and find all these valuable ingredients and other ideas.
“He was so gung-ho about things, so knowledgeable about tenderizing the meats. It was the competition that always brought out the best in us (in events). I have started the website (https://stingers-bbq-rubs-seasonings.constantcontactsites.com/). The support of family was there immediately (after Greg’s passing).”
Learning tax and other financial nuances of the business has come to be a necessary agenda item for Brian. “I had to continue. It brought family closer. Literally it has been everyone pitching in, my aunts, my uncle, everyone. I love my family and friends. It’s been absolutely amazing. My cousin’s sons are 7 and 10, and even they have been helping out at the markets.”
Stingers utilizes the Broadway Market’s certified co-op kitchen for its product preparation, a site used by many small businesses locally.
According to Awarski, expectations for Stingers continue to rise. “The possibilities really are limitless,” said Awarski. “There’s so much creativity you can put forth… Greg would be happy to know where things are heading for the business.”
Stingers, Awarski says, is “something you need in your cabinet.”
More information can be found Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Stingersbbq/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/stingersbbq) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/stingersbbq/?hl =in).

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