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Ms. Dot’s white BBQ sauce is a Spokane business with strong roots in Alabama

Douglas Williams sells his barbecue sauce in more than a dozen locations in the Inland Northwest. And at one location in Hillsboro, Alabama – his mom’s restaurant, Dot’s Diner.

His mom, Dorothy Louise Williams, known to most as Dot, crafted the recipe for the product, Ms. Dot’s White BBQ Sauce. She also is an entrepreneurial inspiration.

Dot Williams, 73, worked as a cook for decades. Along the way, an old chef she worked with “told me everything I know,” Dot said in a brief phone interview while taking a break at her restaurant late last month.

Eventually, she decided she wanted her own restaurant and opened Dot’s Diner in 1998.

“I have cooked in a restaurant all my life,” Dot Williams said.

Douglas Williams said he remembers relishing his mom’s white barbecue sauce as a kid.

“It was handed down. She just added her twist. I like hers better than I like anybody else’s,” he said. “It’s got that zing to it.”

White barbecue sauce has many ingredients similar to those in more common red barbecue sauce. Instead of starting with a tomato base, white barbecue sauce starts with mayonnaise.

Douglas Williams said white barbecue sauce is more common in the South, where a lot of people make their own.

He recommends it not just on meats and fish, but on salads, sushi and rice.

He expanded on his mom’s recipe and offers four white barbecue sauces: original, all natural, sugar-free and vegan.

Williams worked at his mom’s restaurant for 10 years, but in 2015 left for Spokane along with his son, now a 13-year-old student at Yasuhara Middle School. Friends in Spokane raved about the white barbecue sauce he served at gatherings, and they urged him to consider selling it.

He connected with Michael Ebinger, then the director of Washington State University’s Innovation Center, who helped him launch the business. He also went to local retailers to see if he could interest them in selling his sauce. Williams said Clyde Sonnenberg, owner of Sonnenberg’s Market and Deli in Spokane’s East Central area, liked the sauce and was the first to agree to carry it.

The bottles feature his mom’s smiling face.

“She’s a Southern woman, for real,” he said.

Williams said his business is improving after pandemic setbacks.

“I was really going. COVID set me back,” Williams said. “The business is doing great now. It’s starting to grow once again.”

He’s selling about 7,000 bottles of Ms. Dot’s a year. But he hopes to boost that. One of his top goals is persuading a grocery store to carry it.

It’s now on sale at 10 locations in Spokane, including Egger’s Better Meats and Seafood on the South Hill, Huckleberry’s, the Kitchen Engine, the Ace Hardware at Francis and Rowan and at his own store, Dot’s Soul Food at 1719 W. Northwest Blvd. It’s also for sale at Pilgrim’s Market and the Culinary Stone in Coeur d’Alene as well as online at his website and on Amazon.