Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Salas.

When Rodrigo Salas and his wife moved to Austin from Mexico City, he couldn’t escape questions about his favorite Mexican restaurants in the area.

“We said, ‘It’s not what we’re used to eating, so we’ll gladly invite you over and give you what we eat in Mexico City,'” said Salas, who now lives in Lakewood. “We cooked for them, and they loved it.”

So began Salas’ Mexican sauce business, Molli. The company, founded in 2013, makes cooking and hot sauces that can be used on traditional dishes from different regions in Mexico.

The best-selling Veracruz sauce, for example, is a blend of red-ripened tomatoes, morita chile peppers and green olives that add a “sweet heat” to just about anything. Although the sauce was inspired by a Veracruz fish dish, it could be used as a simmer sauce, slow cooker sauce, instant pot sauce or skillet sauce for any type of meat, Salas said.

“These sauces make it easier for anyone to cook a meal in under half an hour, even if they don’t know how to cook Mexican food,” he said.

Salas makes it even easier by including recipes on the bottle and doing cooking demonstrations in stores. Consumers can also visit the website to access more than 300 recipes that utilize his seven sauces.

As Salas’ products expanded, so did his markets. He first sold the sauces at local farmers’ markets and then to retailers like Central Market, Whole Foods and Tom Thumb. By the end of 2018, shoppers could buy the sauces in 350 stores in 22 states.

“Last year, we had a breakthrough, and we’ve done really well,” Salas said. “It’s not been easy, but it’s been a fun ride, and we’re looking forward to next year.”

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