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Taste for perfection spurs Sauce owner

Date Posted: 2010-04-29

When Reggie Dumas first got into the restaurant business back in 1992, he didn’t have any idea where his dream would lead him. Some 18 years later, he is making adjustments to that dream, and they’re really quite tasty.

When the young Marine hung up his uniform and opted to remain in Okinawa and open his Sauce in Futenma, he knew soul food was what he wanted to cook. The Alabama native knew nothing about the arts of the kitchen, but set himself a goal of “spending 20 years just to get things right. I knew I had to be persistent with my goal.” Working his way through the first small restaurant, to a second near Kadena Air Base, to a third in Hamby Town, he tasted and experimented and tasted some more, creating food products “that are nothing like what I was doing in the beginning.”

The 46-year-old Dumas is doing it again, opening a new restaurant—his fourth--on Highway 58, just south of Camp Lester. Sauce specializes in barbeque ribs, chicken, fish and Cajun crab legs. He’s also created his own tropical cocktails that fit right in with the cuisine. The newest Sauce seats only 20, and Dumas says, “my real clientele is take out. We do lots and lots of it, and we’re going for more.” Sauce has a very limited menu of barbeque ribs, barbeque ribs and chicken, barbeque ribs and shrimp, chicken wings, chicken and shrimp, fish and shrimp, and a shrimp dinner. He also has a Cajun Crab Legs and Shrimp Dinner, plus a series of side dishes. All dinner plates come in two sizes; regular for ¥1,900 and large for ¥2,900. The Cajun crab goes for ¥5,000.

“Remember the take out,” says Dumas. “That’s where we really serve our customers.” Sauce is open 6 ~ 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, but Dumas is ready to open on Monday evenings and any day for lunch, for groups of 20 people. He encourages large groups—15~20—to call ahead and book a reservation for as early as 5 p.m., or about 10 p.m., when the atmosphere is more relaxed. Reservations are available at (098) 936-0204.

His take out service is ratcheting up a notch; he’s delivering to the U.S. Naval Hospital at lunchtime on Fridays. If the take out and delivery service works well, Dumas says he’ll consider expanding it. “The hospital’s most important to me,” he says, “because they can’t get out for lunch, so I’m going to them.”

While take out is important, Dumas has one thing more that’s even higher on the priorities list. He’s created his own hot sauce, and sees that as “the way of the future. I want to be a sauce distributor.” He first began tinkering with his own hot sauce recipe about six years ago, tweaking and modifying the nine-spice sauce until he has it “sort of where I think it should be.” He has contracted a company that bottles the spicy liquid for him. Business has been so good, the sauce is sold out right now, but “look out for summer. We’ve a new batch coming, and we’re concentrating only on the original sauce (the past year or two he’s cranked out three sauces of varying heat intensity) since we know now what people are looking for.” His hot sauce is perfect for marinade, and also for the extra jolts onto the food after cooking. “Pour it on” is his motto, and he takes it personally as he hops from table to table, chatting with customers and pouring the fiery liquid into small plastic cups for people to try.

Sauce is located on Highway 58 at 1-13-9 Chatan, Chatan-Cho, little more than a stoplight south of Camp Lester and the U.S. Naval Hospital. It’s on the east side of the street, right next to a Kawasaki shop. Parking is conveniently located next to the Kawasaki Shop. Regular hours are Tuesday ~ Sunday 6 p.m. ~ 11 p.m., but Reggie Dumas is willing to negotiate special parties, receptions and soul food dinners.

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