One Fine Pickle — Randy’s Pickles, Cleveland

Believe it or not, Andrew Rainey, partner in Randy’s pickles, thinks of pickles as comfort food. “Oh, yeah,” he admits, “nothing beats a Ritz cracker and a slice of good cheese with a great pickle on top. So I thought, ‘how hard can it be?’ Then I bought fresh cucumbers, salt and vinegar, went to my grandmother’s and asked ‘What do you know about making pickles?’”

Well, it ends up she didn’t know anything, but they decided they could figure it out. “The first batch was terrible,” recalls Andrew. “But we didn’t let that stop us. The recipe ended up being totally trial and error, batch after batch. I have zero background in the food and restaurant industry, but I know what I like in a pickle. So, I did my homework, read a lot, learned a lot and continued to put my DIY theories to the test. I worked my full-time job about another year and a half, quit and sold my first jar of pickles at the Gordon Square Farmers Market in Cleveland.

It ends up time is key, as well as use the best ingredients. Andrew uses locally grown cucumbers when in season and local providers when not. And then he fresh-packs them for a crunchier flavor. “A lot of pickles made in larger quantities are brined in giant vats of salt water. We pour the brine inside of the jars and pickle in the jars, so ours are not sitting in tanks getting mushy. They are pickled fresh.” From his grandma’s kitchen, Andrew moved to the Cleveland Culinary Launch Kitchen, but will now be expanding to his own facility, so he can make even more pickles.

Andrew is joined in this endeavor by two of his college roommates from Kent State University, Ryan Snyder and Pat Routa — all from Cleveland — who decided to name the pickles “Randy’s” after Andrew’s university nickname. “There’s no explaining it, really,” he agrees.