Sticker Mule owner hopes to make hot sauce, martial artists in old Mohawk Dairy building in Amsterdam

The former Mohawk Dairy on Forest Ave in Amsterdam in December

The former Mohawk Dairy on Forest Ave in Amsterdam in December

AMSTERDAM — And now for something completely different: A custom sticker printer is proposing a hot sauce factory and mixed martial arts academy at a former milk distribution warehouse.

The owner of Sticker Mule, based just up Forest Avenue, recently closed on the purchase of the former site of Mohawk Dairy, which opened in 1932 as a milk processor but later was a wholesale distributorship with a retail storefront.

On Tuesday, 260 Forest Ave. LLC submitted a request for site plan review and a special-use permit from the city Planning Commission.

The plan calls for the building to be essentially divided in half, with one side devoted to Mule Sauce and the other to MMA.

Sticker Mule LLC will produce and package the hot sauce in the southern side of the building and load it on trucks for wholesale distribution. It will also operate a retail storefront, selling Mule Sauce as well as branded clothing and other items. There will be five employees on this side of the property, which is expected to generate about 40 vehicle trips per day.

Combat Mules LLC will operate a mixed martial arts facility in the northern half of the building, with much of the space dedicated to workouts, including a boxing ring and a pro-style octagonal cage. There will also be locker rooms, a lounge area and offices.

The MMA facility is intended mainly as a community resource for youth athletics but also as a training facility for more advanced athletes. It too is expected to generate about 40 vehicle trips per day.

The narrative portion of the request indicates that competitions are not currently planned on site, but may be in the future. If the plans do change, the owners will petition the city for a modification of their permit; the building’s occupancy would be limited to 100 or fewer people.

The combined 33 parking spaces around the building are enough to comply with code and will be enough for daily operation, the narrative says. If more spaces are needed, such as during a special event, there’s a vacant gravel lot next to the building on the 2.7-acre parcel.

All of the various LLCs are affiliated under the umbrella of Sticker Mule, a custom sticker printer owned by Anthony Constantino.

Constantino said there is a thread tying together the seemingly disparate worlds of hot sauce, custom stickers and mixed martial arts:

Combat sports are what motivated him to succeed in school studies he wasn’t really interested in. What he learned there led to the success of Sticker Mule. And Mule Sauce shows that a sticker printer that can do a 180-degree pivot to produce a great hot sauce must also have some very high standards for your print job.

The hot sauce started out as more of a whim, something to dress up the 10,000 hamburgers that Sticker Mule was giving away at Free Hamburger Day in Amsterdam in the spring of 2018.

“It started as just a joke,” Constantino said. “We jumped on the idea after that — we eventually saw it was an opportunity to have some fun and an opportunity to show our quality standards.”

A New Zealand company came up with the recipe for what is now Mule Sauce. It’s produced out of state under contract, and is selling at a rate of 30,000 bottles a month, Constantino said.

Much of the production will remain contracted out, he said. The point of doing some of it in-house will be to bring attention and visitors to Amsterdam and Sticker Mule.

“I like the idea of doing exciting things for the city. That was probably the driving idea behind doing some of the production ourselves.”

Constantino is a boxer himself, and also wrestled. He says he was neither a good or a bad student in school but a disengaged student, and in retrospect he credits the focus of sports with helping him learn and stay focused.

Twenty years later, he hopes the MMA facility will offer the same to another generation of youths.

“It’s always something that I enjoyed,” Constantino said. “My idea was building a facility for kids, focusing on combat sports. It’s another opportunity to show we can succeed at anything we do but also something fun for me.”

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