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Mariano's "What's Next" program helping bring local Black brands to store shelves

Foodie Friday: Black-owned brands at Mariano's
Foodie Friday: Black-owned brands at Mariano's 02:59

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's Foodie Friday, and we're highlighting several Black-owned brands all at one spot. Mariano's sells more than 50 Black-owned brands, many of which are made right here in Chicago.

Digital journalist Jamaica Ponder spoke with a few of the brand owners to check out some local products and Black-owned businesses.

The way these small business owners got onto shelves is through the "What's Next at Mariano's" program, which prioritizes getting Chicago-made goods into stores, making it easier for customers to shop local and shop Black all year round at their neighborhood supermarket.

Chef Dominique Leach is one of more than 50 local vendors with their products for sale in Mariano's, and she just released a new Wagyu beef hotdog under her line, Lexington Betty Smokehouse, in collaboration with Vander Farms.

"We came up with this idea, but we didn't have any outlets to sell it to you," she said.

She reached out to Mariano's.

"I've had a relationship with Mariano's for years now. I've been a chef ambassador there, or a taste maker, and when I mentioned it, it sparked their interest," she said.

Once she proposed her Wagyu beef products, she was able to bring her vision to fruition.

"We're in every Mariano's; all 44 locations," she said.

Much like Leach, chef D'Andre Carter of Soul & Smoke said getting his barbecue sauce into Mariano's felt like the next natural step in working with them.

"We started out by doing events with them, doing our barbecue sauce tasters, and then it kind of just went from there. And now they are carrying our barbecue sauce, which is amazing, because we get to share it with the whole city," Carter said.

Carter said working with Mariano's has seriously paid off, with their sauce becoming increasingly popular.

"They told us we're the top-selling local barbecue sauce at all the stores. So that was, like, awesome to hear, because I work so hard on that barbecue sauce," he said.

For Danielle Marshall, founder of Danie's Natural Juice Blends, working with Mariano's has made her feel as though both she and her small business are being handled with care.

"I just simply like the way Mariano's has handled us. They walked us through, but also that they understand our product," Marshall said.

"Mariano's, they support a lot of local, Black-owned businesses; and I really didn't know that, until we started this partnership, you know?" Carter said.

"They have always done their part to highlight Black-owned businesses; but ultimately, local businesses – local small businesses that need these platforms to get people's attention," Leach said.

All three products are available at Mariano's locations across the city. And small business owners who are interested in getting into Mariano's stores can learn more about What's Next at Mariano's program at their website.

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