At the end of November, Tim Tuohy will celebrate five years of pickling, preserving and making handcrafted cocktail shrubs and garnishes.
As the founder and owner of Kansas City Canning Co., Tuohy is celebrating this small business “canniversary” with his business partner and operations manager, Abbi Cheek. Cheek, who also co-owns Nomad Kimchi, a kimchi-making kit that she sells online, came on board about two years ago. She adds her own extensive knowledge of producing, packaging and marketing canned foods to Tuohy’s culinary creativity and marketing savvy.
Abigail Cheek's kits include pre-measured dry ingredients, recipe cards, a produce shopping guide and exclusive member portal access to videos.
Together, Tuohy and Cheek have been able to grow Kansas City Canning Co. to the point where they are ready to take on canning, pickling and preserving for others. To that end, they've launched new services: co-packing (where they take and make a client’s recipe for them and bottle it) and private labeling (where they create a recipe for a client and sell it under their label).
“We are looking at ways we can partner with other businesses to help them grow their business by bottling and selling their own products or ones we collaborate in creating together,” says Cheek. “Right now, we are making and bottling Local Pig’s own tomato jam and Boys Grow's heirloom tomato bruschetta, and we have also worked with other local companies to make products for them, like Boulevard Brewing Co.’s hoppy pickles, KC Ciderworks’ mustard and salsa for Moyer Farms using produce from their own land.”
In the nearly two years since launching, its products have gained the attention of notable chefs and industry experts across the country.
Kansas City Canning Co. products are all made from scratch by hand in a former hamburger stand in the East Bottoms, using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Although the company has a tiny staff, its products are sold in fine food stores in seven states, from California to Massachusetts. Tuohy, a trained chef, says it is Kansas City Canning Co.'s ability to oversee the quality of its products that makes the company the perfect partner for collaborations. “With only 2.5 employees, we have to work in small batches and that means our customers are always receiving the freshest product we make,” he says.
Looking for a way to reach a larger audience, Kansas City Canning Co. also recently struck a deal with Seattle Fish. The Colorado-based seafood distribution company is now representing KC Canning Co. to help get its products in more fine food and grocery stores nationwide. The partnership appears to be paying off, as more people are noticing KC Canning Co. on their local grocery store's shelves.
Great cocktails don’t have to be complicated.
With 16 core products, KC Canning Co. still has the bandwidth to take on more co-paying and private label opportunities, which allows the company to get creative with its offerings. “We are currently working with J. Rieger & Co. Distillery, our neighbors down the street, to make a seasonal tonic water that will be used at both their Monogram bar and the Hey, Hey Club cocktail lounge downstairs,” explains Tuohy. “A first for us, although we make plenty of other cocktail-related items.”
Although their pipeline is full for this year with the busy holiday season in front of them, Kansas City Canning Co. is taking on new co-pack and private label clients in 2020. The company is also hoping to upgrade to a larger facility next year, allowing it to take on even more cross-collaboration opportunities in addition to expanding its own product line. “We have a new shrub flavor, lime and mint, that has taken off and we want to do preserved lemons and more black garlic paste and pickled garlic, too,” says Cheek.
Part of KC Canning Co.'s success is due to those local Kansas City retail and restaurant businesses that picked up their products and either sold them on their shelves or put them on their menus in the early days. Now, almost five years later, Tuohy is in a position to help these businesses sell additional products using their own product in unique and delicious ways.
“We are a local business that was supported by other local businesses, and now we want to help our friends push their businesses to the next level,” he says.
Kansas City Canning Co., kansascitycanningco.com