Judge Casey's Ketchup with Stephen Bray
In 1873, Jeremiah Casey emigrated from Ireland to the Bay Area. He worked tirelessly to become a respected judge, later recognized as “The best known & most popular Irishman on the Pacific Coast.” He was, by definition, a self-made icon.
More than 100 years later, in 2010, Judge Casey’s great-grand nephew Peadar Casey arrived in the Bay Area with the same dreams of making his mark on the West Coast. Peadar did not come alone; he was armed with his family recipe for a seriously addictive Irish Country ketchup and his friend, Stephen Bray.
This is the peculiarly amazing story of Judge Casey’s Ketchup, our newest partner. Not only does the ketchup make taste buds sing, it presents a replica of the Judge’s legacy: showing that those from far and wide are welcome in the Bay Area community and seen for their hard work and contribution.
I talked to Stephen Bray about his and Peadar’s work. The two have been friends for years, and moved to the Bay Area to finally showcase the ketchup that has wowed family and friends for decades.
The company was up and running in 2017, said Stephen. The two friends handled everything from sales to marketing — and they still do. The company, to this day, is only run by Stephen and Peadar, with help from a co-manufacturer in Gilroy.
“We’re two friends that are doing a pretty crazy thing. People say, ‘you’ll never make any money,’ but we have done a good job growing the company,” Stephen said.
Along with keeping the company the same two pals, the age-old recipe from Peadar’s family hasn’t changed either. While manufacturing in large amounts gives some slight changes, Stephen said the recipe still uses whole ingredients — whole onions, whole raisins, and whole sun dried tomatoes — all sourced from California.
To the pair, it is essential to remain true to the family recipe, which shows Judge Casey’s commitment to maintaining tradition and personal values. While it would be simpler and cheaper to cut corners, Stephen said they have remained adamant on preserving the little things that make the ketchup different and delicious, such as quality whole raisins.
“We don’t have a big VC fund, we’re not a faceless corporation,” Stephen said. “We’re sticking to our principles."
And it pays off. The ketchup is rich, thick, and a truly perfect condiment for anything, which Stephen said was a goal of theirs.
The community seems to agree that this goal can be checked off. Stephen said he went to stores all over the Bay to share their ketchup in order to get customer feedback.
“The feedback was overwhelmingly positive,” Stephen said. “People were blown away.”
This is both a testimony to Judge Casey’s credibility of being the perfect condiment and a message of Judge Casey’s community-forward values.
Judge Casey represented an American success story when he came to the Bay Area to make a new life for himself. Now, Peadar and Stephen hope to continue his legacy while also making their own name.
“It is interesting that we have found ourselves here at the same spot so many decades later,” Stephen said.