I was a bartender in Los Angeles for about 20 years and had done a majority of that time at Jones Hollywood.
Truth be told, I always disliked making dirty martinis. We constantly ran out of olive juice and when we did have it, it was the questionable brine that comes in the big jar of olives that sits behind every bar – unrefrigerated. A dirty martini is a great, classic cocktail – the olive juice, more often than not, left something to be desired.
One busy night, I was behind the bar and someone ordered a dirty martini. At the time, we kept our olive juice in a squeeze bottle – it was empty.
I checked the olive tray and it too was empty. I grabbed the gallon jar of olives. It was full of olives but void of juice.
Now, with people yelling for drinks, I had to leave the bar, grab a new jar and fight it open. It took me ten minutes to make one drink that should’ve taken about 45 seconds. I turned my friend and co-worker, Terry and said, “How come no one bottles olive juice?”
About a year later, Dirty Sue was launched – The first bottled Premium Olive Juice in the world! My goal was to offer consumers a higher quality olive juice that would be convenient and more importantly, consistent in flavor. Dirty Sue is thrice filtered, pure, premium olive juice. We start with the best olives and the result is the best olive juice!
Everyone asks me, “How did you come up with the name Dirty Sue?” I wanted the word ‘dirty’ in the name to connect to dirty martinis and I wanted it to be catchy. I spent days in my old apartment thinking of dirty this and dirty that. All my friends were trying to help as well. And then I spied my beach cruiser. (Obviously, I had yet to meet my wife yet, hence the bike in the living room) On the bike frame was a pin up girl and the name Flying Sue – it was inspired by the nose of a WWII Bomber. It seemed to fit what I was trying to do and the name Dirty Sue was pretty catchy. A brand was born!
In the beginning, orders started trickling in – just a couple a week. Then word got out that you could buy bottled olive juice for dirty martinis. It did not take long for me to regret moving into a second floor apartment. Product would get delivered by pallet to the curb from the olive farm and we would haul it up the steps a couple cases at a time. Orders would come in, they would get packed and hauled back down the steps to be shipped to happy customers. These two pictures show our first really busy Holiday Season. Eric and Matt (bartenders at Jones) were lifesavers in helping me keep up with online orders!
Finally, we had to make moves. This is our first warehouse in Anaheim, CA. It was a lifesaver. Ron ran the show for me there and took over fulfilling the online orders, while I manned the ship on the rest of the business. It was a huge help to have space and manpower. There was no order we couldn’t fill. Until we couldn’t.
With the addition of garnishes like Blue Cheese Olives and Whiskey Cherries we did eventually outgrow Anaheim.
I met two brothers who had a business in Louisiana (the state I was married in!). They had a giant warehouse with manpower and machines. It was the perfect fit and it was the right move. Almost every order of Dirty Sue stops by their warehouse before it is shipped across the country.
Dirty Sue has come a long way since the days in my old apartment. I’ve made some mistakes over the years and learned some valuable lessons.
One thing has always remained the top priority – offer the best product possible. It is easy to go to work every day when you believe in what you are doing.