For the loyal patrons of the Redrock Italian Eatery and Barra on West Fourth Street in Medford, this New Year's will be bittersweet.

For the loyal patrons of the Redrock Italian Eatery and Barra on West Fourth Street in Medford, this New Year's will be bittersweet.

Pamela Shipley, owner of Redrock, is calling it quits Jan. 1, bringing an end to the restaurant's 14-year history so she can focus on what has been a side business, Saucy Sisters. "We want to take Saucy Sisters to the next step," she said. "And the restaurant business has been flat these last couple years."

Shipley said she thinks Saucy Sisters will do well, and that it already has a dedicated following.

Part of this loyal following is a carryover from the restaurant, where Shipley says some of their older regulars have been coming since they opened 14 years ago. "I'll definitely miss my regulars," she said. "I've watched people grow up here.

"This one boy I met when he was 6," she said, "and then I saw him ... and he said 'I just passed the bar exam, and this is where I wanted to go.' "

The closure of Redrock also will put 15 people out of work.But while that business will close, another now will get her full attention.

Saucy Sisters was started three years ago by Shipley and Kim Adams, Redrock's manager, and has been selling various Redrock sauces at farmers markets and the Downtown Market Co. in Medford. The effort has taken off, according to Shipley, and the pair want to focus their efforts on building up the business, eventually hoping to take their sauces into supermarkets. "Kim was my first employee hired at 19 years old," said Shipley. "She's absolutely amazing ... . She came up and said, 'You should sell Redrock stuff outside. People would love it.' "

Luckily, she said, one of the restaurant's best customers also had a say in what foods are carried at the Ashland Co-op. "She said, 'Just call me up if you want to sell your sauces here,' " Shipley said.

Before they can take the next big step and bring their products to a supermarket, however, the sauces need to pass a battery of quality-control testing to determine whether they meet food safety guidelines, as well as shelf life, pH balance and other factors.

"We did make a trip up to Portland and went to (OHSU), where they tested our sauces," she said. "There are a lot of specifics when it comes to food.

"In the summer months, we have a hard time keeping up," she said. "We've been doing our research, looking around and checking out the competition. Our pesto is untouchable."

The restaurant has gotten a reputation for using quality local ingredients, a trend Shipley says will carry over to her new business. "I pride myself on not serving junk," she said. "I could make a lot more, I could have a higher profit margin, but I just couldn't live with serving junk.

"That's what I tell chefs when they come to work here," she added. " 'You can be proud of the work you do here.' "

Although Shipley is looking forward to expanding Saucy Sisters, she said she will miss the restaurant life, despite the long hours and high stress.

"I don't want people to think I didn't like it," she said. "I do like it.

"It's bittersweet," she said. "I know I'm going to miss it, but I'm also looking forward to it."

Reach reporting intern Nils Holst at 541-776-4477 or email holstn@sou.edu.