“I was extremely close with her,” Lewis said.
His aunt served the sauce at countless meals that his seafood-loving family enjoyed together he said. It was during his senior year in high school that Lewis asked her where he could buy it.
“That’s when she told me she made it,” Lewis said. “And I thought ‘Why isn’t this around the world?’”
After her death, Lewis spent weeks with his great uncle, David Scott, recreating the recipe in his kitchen.
Determined to keep his promise, Lewis got to work. This is when Aunt Carol’s Sauce came to life.
Lewis created two flavors, spicy and mild, both based on his aunt’s recipe.
With the help of his family and mentors, he began selling his aunt’s sauce -- doing it all by hand. Lewis says Aunt Carol never thought her recipe would be bigger than their household, but he still wanted to take it to a new level.
“I was trying to make sure the texture and taste was the same as her sauce,” Lewis said. “She made it so good and I wanted to make sure I could do it justice. Now we have it down.”
A 2018 graduate of Hampton High School’s International Baccalaureate Programme, Lewis entered Virginia Tech as a sophomore and earned a Presidential Scholarship.
“Someway, somehow, God allowed me to be blessed with an academic full ride,” said the track-and-field standout.
Lewis took part in the Startup Hokies-x Accelerator at Virginia Tech’s Apex Entrepreneurship Cohort last fall, and said the eight-week program helped tremendously by providing him with mentoring and funding.
All in all, Lewis said, he just is happy to take something that his family loved and share it with other families.
Aunt Carol’s is now a familiar face and sold at Thai This Express a restaurant in Radford. Plus, he has a new partnership with Virginia Tech’s West End Market.
Though he stays busy with his studies in building construction and computer science, Lewis made time to develop apps — including University Link, which is designed to help college entrepreneurs promote their businesses and connect with one another.
Lewis, who is deeply driven by his faith in Jesus Christ, also created apps that reflect that: Purpose – From God, and Manifest – God’s Vision.
The tangy concoction is sold in 12-ounce glass bottles at www.auntcarolssauce.com. Lewis donates a portion of the profits to community outreach, including a Thanksgiving Meal Drive in which he gave 84 home-cooked meals.
He said the business has grown organically, pretty much by word of mouth.
“Right now, we’re in the moment, we’re making it happen, and I know my aunt is watching down on me and seeing this happen,” said Lewis.
“This is her legacy,” he said, “I’m just the steward of it.”