Hartland butcher shop is flourishing, thanks to Old World tradition
By Teresa Sharp, 02/05/08
HARTLAND — The aromatic scents of garlic and cherry woodsmoked meats beckon customers to the small European Meat Products & Deli, a portal to the Old World. The shop, at the south end of a large, brick-fronted building at 7968 Ridge Road, boasts cases of homemade sausages and smoked meats. There also are shelves of fresh baked goods from Polish and German bakeries in Toronto and Chicago. The shop is a treat for the senses, in the old European butcher shop tradition, which owner Walter Sadujk o and his three-member staff work to preserve in the cavernous rooms behind the shop.
With a ready smile and an expansive nature, Sadujko said that it’s not unusual to put in 18-hour days to create “a few thousand pounds of sausage a week.” Sadujko is originally from Lomza, a city east of Warsaw, Poland, and his heritage is the reason for the fragrant Old World aromas and succulent tastes. He and his employees stoke the cherry wood fires burning in the facility’s three large smokers and put in long hours making and/or smoking sausages, wieners, pepperoni, hams, pork loins and more. Then he opens what he refers to as the building’s “small factory-outlet store” to the public Wednesdays through Saturdays.
“We use old recipes and make it like old tradition,” Sadujko, 52, said in his thick Polish accent. “There are no preservatives. It’s straight garlic, salt and pepper and herbs.”
Sadujko moved into the building last fall and opened the small adjoining shop about a month ago. His goods are already drawing rave reviews from steady customers such as Barker Mayor Jo Ann Greenwald. “If you’ve ever had old-style Polish sausage and deli meats, mmm m, this is really wonderful,” Greenwald said. “It’s really Old World. They do everything homemade. And their specialty breads from Toronto and Chicago are delicious. We don’t have anything [else] like this here.”
Sadujko learned his art at his father’s knee. “My father was a butcher, and so I was around the smokehouse since I was this little,” he said, extending his hand to show the height of a toddler. “My father learned from one of the best — he was a champion.”
Sadujko did not originally intend to follow in his father’s footsteps. Through a co-op university program, he briefly worked in the auto industry in Italy but arrived in Toronto at age 24. At that point, he didn’t know a soul in the Canadian city and didn’t speak the language. He began working as a meat distributor, which led to an opportunity running a butcher shop for five years. At that time, he said, he befriended a woman who owned the shop next door. She had a brother-in-law in Rochester who saw an opportunity for Sadujko to open a shop there.
Ten years ago, Sadujko opened his shop on Hudson Avenue in Rochester, importing his goods from Europe through Chicago and Toronto. A year later, he began making his own products the Old World way in Syracuse and opened a small adjoining shop. Late last year, he moved his meat production to Niagara County, to the former Piatkowski Meats building on Ridge Road, which provides the goods for his Rochester and Syracuse shops. He said he plans to open a fourth shop in Buffalo in the coming months.
Sadujko sold his shop in Toronto long ago, but maintains his home there, where his wife, 18-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter live. He rents a house in Hartland to shorten his commute when he’s working long hours. He has a staff of 15 among the three shops and expects to hire an additional five or so when he opens the shop in Buffalo.
In addition to the meat lines, Sadujko carries a small number of specialty items from a variety of countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and, of course, his native Poland.
But also among his big sellers are the breads and pastries that arrive fresh from “the best” Polish and German bakeries in Toronto, and are delivered every two weeks from Chicago, which, he said, is the biggest Polish community outside of Warsaw. “We started selling bread three years ago, maybe a couple of boxes, and now we get a whole truckload,” he said. “We also sell [frozen] pierogies from Chicago.”
Sadujko beamed when a customer stopped in on a recent day and said how much he enjoyed the carefully prepared sausages. Sadujko is eager to preserve the traditions that he began learning a half-century ago. “There is no trade school for butchers nowadays,” he said. “I have to teach the old tradition.”
European Meat Products & Deli is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For information, call 772-2950.