Short Orders

Dressing for success

By Clara Silverstein
Globe Correspondent / March 18, 2009

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Without a sales manager or a website, Crane Crest Real French Dressing has managed to attract loyal celebrity clients including actress Brooke Shields and former first lady Laura Bush. Not bad for a company that Sam Perry, an investment adviser, runs part-time from his home in Chestnut Hill. The vinaigrette, bottled in Canton, is sold in wide-mouthed glass jars ($4 to $5.99 for 16 ounces), which gives it a homemade look. Garlicky and tangy, the dressing can liven up salad greens or be used as a marinade. The recipe goes back to Gordon Crane, a Massachusetts World War II veteran who in the late 1940s learned to make the dressing in Paris. When he returned home, he handed out jars to family and friends. His niece incorporated Crane Crest in 1978 and made it into a business. Perry purchased the company in 1992. Though Crane Crest now racks up $120,000 per year in sales, Perry likes to keep a low profile. "People think I'm a little old lady," he says. Available at John Dewar & Co., 753 Beacon St., Newton, 617-964-3577; Kurkman's Market, 227 Cypress St., Brookline, 617-277-6500, or call 617-277-1325.