Hello, I'm Bill Williams, Jr. and to celebrate Black History Month, I wanted to share some of the history behind the company my father, William F. “Bill” Williams and his friends created in 1989. It all started with our family restaurant and the ideas and recipes for the food that we served became the inspiration for what you now know as Glory Foods. The Marble Gang Restaurant was a great place. It was right on the edge of Downtown Columbus so it always had a very eclectic crowd. We had a Thursday jazz night that was always very popular. Our menu included, great ribs, crawfish étouffée, chicken wings and of course great Collard Greens. It was definitely the Columbus meeting spot for everyone after work. If you had a friend or family member in town for the weekend you would take them to The Marble Gang. A lot of people didn’t know that my Dad graduated from The Culinary Institute of America. He then went on to University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he received his degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management . He brought all of the knowledge and skill from his education to this restaurant. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do.
I worked at the restaurant from 7th grade till I graduated high school. I worked literally every job in the restaurant from cook, to waiter, to manager and I loved it! I loved working with my father and my Aunts and Uncles, but the hours were brutal! I would help open the restaurant on the weekends with our kitchen manger Dave Francis, and I would work all day through breakfast and lunch. I would then go home to eat dinner with my family rest for a bit. People would come in late at night to eat after the clubs and bars closed, and I would get the call at midnight to come down and help my uncle, Ed Williams, get through our late night buffet rush because the place was so busy. The restaurant was certainly a success, but my Dad had an idea. He had a vision for a food company, steeped in generations of southern-style recipes and flavors. My Dad believed that no African-American family celebration is complete without Collard Greens, Blackeye Peas, Butter Beans, or Candied Yams. He set out to make truly authentic pre-seasoned southern seasoned vegetables because they were not available anywhere. My father met with Kroger first, who happened to have their headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. He met with them and discussed how they were not properly servicing their customers. He told them that people love Southern vegetables and would eat them more often and buy them at supermarkets if they were seasoned correctly and easy to heat and serve. When Dad met with Kroger the first time he had 7 items ready to go, but Kroger loved the idea so much that the buyer said “I’ll take 20 items!”.
From then on dad knew he had something great. The company officially launched its line of pre-seasoned canned vegetables in 1992. Dad used our town, Columbus, Ohio, as a "test market" with the initial product line of 17 items. I wanted to join Glory Foods when I graduated college. I told my father I would help him out and join his company, but he told me, "Slow down, you can mess up someone else's company first!”. So I went to work for Kraft Foods for 3 years. I was then recruited to work with Coca-Cola of New England for 3 years as the community marketing manager. It was a great experience working for those two powerhouse companies and I learned a lot about sales and marketing over those years. When my father passed away in 2010, my mother called and said “we need you here”. It was an all hands on deck call, so I immediately packed up my life in Boston and moved back to Columbus to join the family business. I love how people enjoy our products. I often get stopped as I am walking through the airport while wearing my Glory Foods shirt. People will tell me which Glory Foods product they love the best and why. People often share their stories about the meals they have shared with their families using our products. When you sit down to eat with your family you can learn a lot. I miss sitting down to eat with my Mother, Father, Brother and Sister. I love hearing the stories. I love interacting with our consumers. I truly love knowing that our company and our product helps to bring families back together around the dinner table.