Two years ago, when Brennan Proctor opened Uncle Brutha’s Hot Sauce Emporium in a stand-alone store, he knew he was entrusting his profits to impulse buyers. People don’t make a special trips just to buy condiments, at least not the way the masses converge on the market for cookies and produce and fresh meat.
But in 2006, when Proctor signed the lease on his shop on 7th Street SE, the area around Eastern Market was booming and he felt confident the crowds would toss enough cash his way to make the rent. The fire last May changed that. With the precipitous drop in foot traffic, Proctor says, he hasn’t been able to maintain growth. When his lease ends at the end of this month, Uncle Brutha’s will close.
“The local community has continued to support us but it’s just not enough,” he says. Proctor says he will go back to hawking his signature No. 10 (the red one) and No. 9 (the green one) sauces at various market stands and is working on getting his sauce on tables at local restaurants. So far, he’s sold bottles to B Smith’s, Bread and Chocolate, and the Nationals Park. Uncle Brutha’s will also soon reappear on the shelves at area Whole Foods, which haven’t carried the hot stuff for a few months because Proctor was having a problem with his distributor.