Our co-op works with nearly 500 local vendors and has more than 3,000 local products on its shelves. Last year, local products equaled 40% of our overall sales. Each month, we shine the spotlight on a featured local vendor to help share their stories and celebrate their role in our community.
We recently spoke with Mark Bove, President of Bove’s of Vermont. The following are excerpts from our conversation.
When did Bove’s get its start?
Bove’s began in our Nonna Victoria’s Kitchen, and Bove’s Café opened at 68 Pearl St, in Burlington, VT, on December 7, 1941. Three generations of Bove’s have made making good honest food their life’s work, dedicated to nourishing a neighborhood, near and far.
How has the Bove’s brand grown and changed over the years?
The brand has morphed over these past almost 80 years from being restaurant focused to more grocery focused, bringing Bove’s pasta sauces, pizza sauces, and frozen meatballs to more people around the country.
What was the motivation for closing the Café and focusing on grocery?
Our father, Dick Bove, the second Bove generation to run the café, ran the business for 64 years, starting when he was just 13. After years of split shifts, and countless hours spent over sauce kettles, Dad wanted us (his sons Mark and Rick), to have a better quality of family life, and to be able to have dinner with our families every night. We closed the café and focused our efforts on building a state-of-the-art sauce facility in Milton, VT, where not a single batch leaves without a Bove family member’s taste approval. We couldn’t leave the restaurant world and cooking entirely though, so we made sure to add a kitchen at the facility to host in-house private events, celebrate the café’s history via Flashback Friday events, and continue catering for our fans. That’s one of the things we miss about closing the restaurant, all the wonderful families we’ve met over the years.
You currently produce Bove’s Marinara, Basil, Roasted Garlic, Vodka, Spicy Marinara, Mushroom & Wine, and Three Cheese and Tomato Pasta Sauces. What’s next?
Last year, we introduced our pizza sauce line with Sweet Basil and Red Pepper offerings, and the response has been beyond our expectations. The sauces are all non-GMO projected verified, certified gluten-free and have no added sugar. We believe in using the highest quality locally sourced ingredients possible in our product offerings.
Any other offerings in the pipeline?
One of the most requested items by fans and former customers alike is our Italian Salad Dressing. We’ve been exploring the possibility of releasing this locally sometime in the next year. Stay tuned.
Do you have an overriding philosophy or mission statement behind your products and your business?
The Bove family has been rooted in the Vermont community for nearly 80 years. We have created time-tested recipes, slow-cooked specialty foods, all from simple fresh ingredients for every family who wants to feel good about enjoying what they eat at a time when consumers are concerned about the origins and quality of their food. We like to say that, three generations into this adventure, we know what makes people happy—simple, fresh, lip-smacking, and there’s-always-more-where-that-came-from pasta, meatballs, and sauces.