Stallworth working to make dreams reality
By BY LYDIA GRIMES – Features Writer
James Stallworth is a person who is not satisfied to sit by and see the world go by. He is determined to make his mark and has got a good start of doing just that. He has a dream and no one will be able to make him stray from making it come true.
Stallworth has always been creative and even when he was a small child he knew that he wanted to become a businessman.
Stallworth is the owner and operator of "Hog Heaven" in East Brewton, part owner of Collegiate Foods and dreams of becoming the owner of many eating establishments in this area.
He was living in Columbus, Ga. when he first decided to make barbecue sauce for sale. He created some novelty cards for several colleges and worked in barbecue places for free so that he could learn all about the different types of sauces. He spent a lot of time after hours at his regular job as a Navy recruiter just for the experience.
He had a friend who worked in the food science lab in Auburn and together they started to work with different blends of sauce. Stallworth really likes the old fashioned way of cooking and seasoning. He began to go through old history books looking for recipes that might be useful. He found an 1872 manuscript for a tomato blend and used it to start his sauce. He added different amounts of other ingredients until he came up with what he thought was a good sauce. It took 18 tries and even after opening his business, he continued to add a little bit of this and a little bit of that. He opened Hog Heaven about six years ago in an out-of-the-way spot close to Evans Storage in East Brewton.
The restaurant is what Stallworth depended on for his family's living and he has used it to develop new blends of the sauce. But his dream did not stop with one restaurant in East Brewton. He proceeded to talk to different colleges in the south and sell them on the idea of marketing his sauce under the different college names. His first was Auburn and Alabama, but now has spread to include Tennessee, Florida State, University of Florida and the University of Georgia, along with T.R.Miller High School and W.S. Neal High School.
A new business has developed called Collegiate Foods in which partners, Sammy and B.J. Evans, Ramon Navarro and James Lee have joined him to distribute the barbecue sauce with different college labels. Stallworth has made a deal with a company in Brundidge, Ala. and they have signed a non-disclosure agreement. Southern Classics Foods now makes the barbecue sauce to Stallworth's specifications and distributors take the sauce to places that sell the product. It is now in the local stores and other places in Alabama and Florida. Last year they shipped 400 to 500 cases. The colleges that agree to let him use their name on the labels get eight percent of the sales so they, too, have a good thing going.
He has not stopped with his plans yet. The future looks bright for the entrepreneur. He wants to someday open a string of barbecue restaurants all over the South. His childhood friend and partner, James Lee will finish 20 years in the military in a couple of years and he will be available to help Stallworth in the training of personnel.
This attitude has made him take chances that others might not have taken. He believes in the best training of employees and cleanliness in the business. He takes great pride in the fact that Hog Heaven has always gotten a good rating from the health department, but believes that things can always be better.
Stallworth was born and raised in Evergreen. Even as a child he was creative and making plans for his future. He always wanted to become a businessman and have his own business when he was grown.
He graduated from high school in 1984 and joined the U.S. Navy right away. He had the chance to go to college at Tuskegee on an athletic scholarship but chose to join the Navy instead.
The Navy proved to be a real education for him. He saw things around the world that he had only read about.
He came back to Evergreen in 1987 and worked for a while at Polyfelt, but it was not what he wanted. He thought that he needed some communication skills so he decided to become a Navy recruiter. He worked for four years in Montgomery and three years in Columbus, Ga. as a recruiter. It was while he was at this job that he started experimenting with the sauce.
Stallworth married an East Brewton native, Terry Howard, in 1993 and they live on Pea Ridge Road. They have three daughters, Jazlyn, 8, Tyra, 3, and Halle, three months.