News Release
 May 27, 2022
CONTACT: Kathy Sautter
716 635 5577

Williamsville, N.Y. –Tops, who is proud to support many Veteran organizations year-round is pleased to be able to support a local Syracuse Veteran, Michael Otis, with his private brand of Battle Tested Craft Barbeque Sauce.

Crafted from a family recipe, Michael began making batches, 125 gallons at a time, back in 2018 from a single stovetop batch before making it available at area Tops Friendly Markets. The original recipe, which was passed down from his dad, Ed Otis, was a coveted secret. In fact, this recipe dates back as far as the late 1920’s, created by his grandmother, but anytime he would ask for it, he was told he wasn’t old enough the handle the recipe. He had to wait until he was 21.

Michael’s interests in the meantime turned elsewhere and at the age of 18, Michael joined the U.S. Air Force, following in his father’s footsteps who was a WWII Veteran. It wasn’t until his 21st birthday did he receive the base recipe for what is now Otis’ Battle Tested® Craft Barbecue Sauce on a 3x5 card in his birthday card and now after 35 years of having the dream in his head to bottle the family recipe, Michael decided not only to share this delicious family recipe with the world, but to share the wealth.

“As a Veteran Owned company we wanted to make sure we could give back to local organizations so 5% or, or sometimes more, goes back to local Veterans organizations. In Syracuse, we donate to Clear Path for Veterans, and in Western New York it’s Veteran’s Outreach Center in Rochester,” said Michael. “It’s truly wonderful to see it come to fruition and to see that we can help, even in the slightest way, local veterans.” In creating this signature family recipe Michael wanted to ensure that his stood out from the rest. “I think it’s the thickness and the all-natural flavors.” While it’s hard to pinpoint which sauce he likes the best, Michael notes the Hickory Signature might top the list followed closely by Mesquite Signature.

In ensuring the quality of the product shone, Michael also didn’t want a product that has high fructose corn syrup or chemical flavoring. “I certainly wouldn’t eat it and to use those kind of ingredients to make it cheaper didn’t work for our business plan. Could we make more money cutting corners to see a sauce for under $2.00, of course, but I wanted to create a sauce that was the closest thing the consumer could find to a Homemade Sauce, with quality ingredients you can actually read and pronounce, and I think we did it,” said Michael.

Selecting to showcase his line of BBQ sauces at Tops he tells us, “was a natural choice. Tops is a strong local grocer with a commitment to community. Being from Syracuse I also knew that Tops is a supporter of Clear Path For Veterans, one of our charity giveback organizations. I’m so very grateful Tops took a chance on the Battle Tested Brand and gave us an opportunity.”

To learn more about Michaels’ story and the Battle Tested line of BBQ Sauces visit Veteran Owned and Operated BBQ Sauce | Battle Tested BBQ Sauce.

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About Tops Friendly Markets Based in Williamsville, NY, Tops Markets currently operates 150 grocery stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, including five that are run by franchisees. As the largest private, for-profit employer in Western New York, with over 14,000 associates, the company is dedicated to providing sustainably sourced, high-quality products, while helping its communities flourish via support for programs that eradicate hunger and disease, educate youth and reduce environmental waste and energy consumption. For more information, visit


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