For many people, the traffic in downtown Powell is an annoyance.

For Matt Salts, the founder of Charqui Jerky Co., it's a key part of his business' origin story.

The Dublin resident in early 2016 was sitting in standstill traffic on state Route 750 just east of downtown's Four Corners intersection when a sign advertising a vacant catering facility caught his eye.

"I sat there and stared at it for a little bit, and I'm like, 'Screw it. I'm not doing anything. I'm not moving,' " he said.

Salts pulled into the parking lot for the strip mall known as the Powell Center at the intersection of Grace Drive and Olentangy Street and received a tour from the landlord.

Then he rented the vacant space -- which included an oven, a hood system and other equipment left by the previous tenant -- and got to work making jerky.

Salts said he and his friends became hooked on jerky several years back after he started visiting a specialty store in southeast Michigan during business trips.

"I was kind of the jerky runner for central Ohio," he said.

When Salts' business trips to Michigan ended and the store declined to ship him large orders, he and his friends decided to make their own. In 2013, the hobbyists won a first-place award for their jerky from the Ohio Association of Meat Processors.

Since its humble beginning, Charqui has distributed its jerky to 125 different locations, including stores in the Kroger, Hills Market and Lucky's Market grocery chains.

The business also maintains a presence at the Powell and Worthington farmers markets -- and jerky can be purchased at its Powell shop, too, though Salts said walk-in traffic is only a small portion of its business.

He said the business also has been targeting golf tournaments, as well as corporate and hospital cafeterias. He said Charqui's reliance on all-natural ingredients makes its products attractive to medical facilities.

"We have a lot of hospital systems that are buying (our jerky) because of its nutritional value," he said. "Most of the other jerky companies (are rejected) because of the stuff they put in it."

Charqui's varieties include traditional jerky flavors such as barbecue and teriyaki, as well as quirkier offerings such as the coffee-infused Morning Buzz and the Bloody Mary-inspired Sunday Hangover.

"We really made (Sunday Hangover) as a joke, just to kind of get people's attention. Maybe they'd try it, laugh and maybe buy something else," Salts said. "It turned out to be one of our best sellers."

Salts said the business' initial success has led him and his partners to consider expanding to a larger facility. Salts and his partners -- Eric and Pat Montgomery of Sunbury, who are his brothers, and Derek Burns of Orange Township -- agree they want to keep the business in southern Delaware County.

"This is a really convenient location for all of us to get to and we really like it," Salts said. "Plus, and I'm being 100 percent honest, the folks (in Powell) have been so supportive of the local product here."

As they eye expansion, the partners also hope to increase Charqui's charitable contributions.

The business will donate 27 percent of all online and event sales in February to the Second and Seven Foundation. Founded by former Ohio State University football players Luke Fickell, Ryan Miller and Mike Vrabel, the charity donates free books to children and encourages high school and college athletes to serve as role models to younger students.

"Education and the health care areas are where we want to focus our (giving) to the community," Salts said.

Amy Hoying, executive director of the foundation, said in a statement the organization is "thrilled" to work with Charqui.

"We are fortunate to have community partners such as Charqui Jerky who are committed to paying it forward," she said.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@twgallick