Grillo’s Pickles: A Growing Business with Downtown Boston Roots

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Posted September 27, 2013 by Olivia Kemp in Downtown Boston
Grillo's Pickles, Park Street, Downtown Boston

Over five years ago, before you could find Grillo’s Pickles at SOWA Open Market, Fenway Park, on the shelves at Whole Foods, or in a martini at Clink, these fresh, all-natural pickles got their start in a one-man cart at Park Street Station. From the modest cart to the “Unofficial Pickle of Boston,” founder and owner Travis Grillo has kept the business’s roots firmly planted in downtown Boston.

Grillo took old family recipes (now Grillo’s famous original and hot pickles) and, through a friend at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, snagged a key spot in Boston’s then-emerging mobile food vending landscape. The wooden cart, handcrafted by Grillo’s cousin, was the first of its kind at the busy T station. Not only did it look different than the other vendors, it also was ahead of the healthy food craze that has since hit Boston and its food trucks. Before he knew it, he had a cult following.

“People started stopping their cars on the side of the road to run out and buy pickles,” Grillo recalls. “We made it okay to eat natural, real food before it was the trend. We made it accessible for people.”

Two Signature Pickle Flavors

Grillo’s two signature pickle flavors: original and hot. Photo credit: Travis Grillo.

The pickles are handcrafted from all-natural ingredients. Working with cucumber experts to follow the season across the country, Grillo buys only the freshest product available. This strategy allows him to operate year-round while maintaining a three- to five-day farm-to-jar cycle. Fans young and old appreciate these pickles.

“That’s the beauty of Grillo’s Pickles,” said Grillo. “We have fans that are two years old and we have fans that are 100 years old. We are loved by everyone from hippies to hip-hop fans. I try to have my business reflect my personality—keep it real and accept everyone.”

The cart also served as Grillo’s first office. Any meetings were held right in the cart. Ultimately, this was where he met with larger business and distribution partners such as the Katsiroubas Bros., where he now produces some of his line.

Despite its growing fan base, Grillo’s Pickles has no plans to abandon its original spot.

“Being at Park Street is an honor for me,” said Grillo. “There’s something iconic about being down here, and we’re lucky enough to be invited back year after year.”

You can buy original and hot pickles at the Grillo’s pickle cart at Park Street Station through the end of September. It will return in early summer 2014. You can find them online, as well. Follow Grillo’s Pickles on Twitter, and like it on Facebook.

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