Hey RVA, we return to our Better Know A Vendor Series with Mike Lampros, the owner and operating manager of Gunther’s Gourmet. He is here today to give us an inside look at the company. Thanks for sharing with us, Mike!
What ignited the spark in you to start your business? Tell us the story of how you and your business idea first met!
Born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia, we Lampros brothers set out on very different paths that eventually merged into what today has become Gunther’s Gourmet Groceries, LLC. Although we had each had worked in a variety of restaurants throughout our high school and college years, neither of us had seriously considered working with the other - much less together in the food industry. My older brother, Nick, went into the private practice of law after graduating from Duke University in 1984 and Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1987. I continued to work in restaurants after graduating from the University of Richmond in 1988, then decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America, from which I graduated in 1991.
While working as the Executive Chef at Crestar Bank (now SunTrust Bank) and then Reynolds Metals (the makers of Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil and other products) in Richmond, Virginia, I began to develop various salad dressings for use at corporate dinners. That experimentation continued after I left those posts and eventually led to the development of Gunther’s three vinaigrettes and marinades, which I originally sold to small gourmet and food shops from the back of my Jeep. As interest in my products grew, I turned to Nick for assistance with the legal side of the business. While Nick handled the paperwork, I handled sales and expanded the product line by developing and adding Gunther’s various salsas to the mix.
Today, we two brothers actively work together to develop new flavors and recipes and to grow the business. Our love of food and willingness to experiment has allowed us to develop a line of products and flavors that surpasses what is generally sold in today’s markets - all while avoiding the artificial ingredients, preservatives, trans fats, and high levels of sodium and cholesterol that are too often found in the products of other companies.
What are the principles, values, or motto behind your business?
We strive to give our customers a quality product at a fair price. Our customer service is only second best to the actual product in each bottle.
So, you didn’t grow up in Richmond, but having been here a while, what is your attachment to the city now?
Originally, I am from Roanoke, Virginia. I attended the University of Richmond. After graduating from U of R, I came and went for several years (NY to CA) but always returned and made Richmond my home. It’s a great city with an eclectic music, food, and drink scene. It has lots of creative people “putting their dream in a bottle.” Richmond is also conveniently located near beautiful beaches, mountains, big cities, and quaint towns.
That is incredible. Congratulations! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, and we wish you luck on all your future recipe experiments.