One of my earliest columns was about a Wake Forest restaurant called Backfins Crabhouse. Their specialty is, of course, crab, and I headed out there with my cracker and mallet to sample the succulent servings. Now, the guys behind Backfins are branching out. John and Jimmy Jenkins have taken possession of a spice and hot sauce company called Durn Good, and they’re serving up local goodness to a taste-loving crowd.
Durn Good isn’t a Jenkins creation. John and Jimmy learned about it when a local man named Dave Hochstrasser, the owner, began bringing his hot sauce into the restaurant for them to try.
“He was persistent enough to get us to try it. We tried it and said, ‘Wow that’s really good,’” Jimmy said. “I’m not even a hot sauce fan.”
The sauce soon became a staple of Backfins, available for hot sauce lovers to pour onto their favorite meals. Eventually, however, Jimmy and John started having trouble getting new product. And then Hochstrasser delivered some bad news – he was either going to close the business or sell it.
Durn Good had been a Wake Forest business for 20 years, with a bottling plant in Louisburg. The Jenkins brothers didn’t want to see it disappear.
“It’s a great local company, and we wanted to not let it die,” Jimmy said.
So, in the fall of 2013, the brothers became the new owners of Durn Good. They worked on a website where they could fill online orders, got reconnected with the manufacturers, and away they went.
“The product is great. There are a lot of hot sauce companies, a lot of spice companies. But this stood out to us,” Jimmy said. “We thought the concept was great and we believed in the product.”
For Hochstrasser, the idea for Durn Good came to him on a hunting trip about 20 years ago. He started with the hot sauce, but eventually expanded his options to things like spices and Bloody Mary mix.
Those products are now being distributed once again, this time by the Jenkins brothers, who use it in some of their recipes and provide bottles on the tables for eager patrons. They said they’re already getting orders from Georgia and Alabama, and it seems to be growing in popularity.
It wasn’t a difficult decision to get into the spice business, Jimmy said. At least, not as hard as the decision to start their own restaurant a little over five years ago. When they did that, they weren’t sure what they were in for.
“You ask yourself, are you crazy? What are you getting yourself in to?” Jimmy said. “It was hard doing a restaurant. It almost killed us.”
But after that, Durn Good is a relative walk in the park.
“Something like Durn Good comes up and it’s not such a shell shock anymore,” he said. “We should be able to kick this in the rear, and make it go, or die trying.”
Jimmy said that making something like Backfins and Durn Good work is all about never giving up.
“Once you see that, it’s not about the money any more. It’s about you persevering over something.”
The success is the reward, rather than any financial boon.
“You can lay in bed at night and think I did it. I didn’t fail,” Jimmy said.
They learned some of that go-getter spirit from Hochstrasser himself. He’s a veteran, and when he came into the store for the first time, he was walking with knee braces. Jimmy and John looked in awe at him.
“Look at that guy, he never stops,” Jimmy said.
And they want to be just like him.
“We don’t want to stop. We want to pass it on.”
Alex Granados writes about interesting people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.