The National Digest

A Story of Twin Sisters, Austin Real Estate, and Salad Dressing: SASS (Season All Stuff Sauce) Forced to Start Over After Their Rent Increased 350%

At 10:30am on a Wednesday morning, the new SASS Dressing and Sauces kitchen was quiet – and hot. The air conditioning in the new building was broken, the latest thing to go wrong in the nine long months since the business lost its lease, halted production, and moved into a new space. In that time, twin sisters and co-owners Lauri and Carol Raymond have had to renovate, negotiate with landlords, and rebuild relationships with buyers and vendors from scratch. This July, they received their first order since October 2018: 600 cases of dressing for H-E-B. “It’s not like starting over,” Carol said. “It is starting over.”

SASS (Season All Stuff Sauce) was born in Austin 31 years ago, the same year as Lauri’s son Zane, who now works at the business. The sisters started with one salad dressing flavor, sesame garlic, which remains a favorite today. “I think food was kind of in our DNA,” Lauri said. “Mom was a great cook, and she cooked three meals a day for seven people for decades.”

Over the years, the sisters went from hand-mixing and hand-filling every bottle themselves to running a company with a dozen employees. Then a new landlord bought their building, with plans to convert the space into an upscale office complex, and everything changed. “It did feel like it was eventually going to happen,” Lauri said. “I was prepared somewhat because it was happening to a lot of businesses in town, and I knew that we had been getting a great deal for many years on our rent.”

It’s a familiar story in Austin by now, but the sisters were still shocked when it finally happened to them: Their rent went up 350%.

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