The authentic flavor is the same, but times have changed at Scapelliti's in Lockport. That's because the convenience store has transformed into a "super store" over the past 80-plus years. And now, this longtime family-run business is finding that there's an appetite for its products across the country.
Company president Dominic Scapelliti says homemade Italian sausage is the family's "calling card."
"We ship sausage all over all over the world, the United States. Whenever anybody hears Scapelliti's, they think of our sausage," he said. Christmas is the busiest time of year for sausage shipments, though a recent order just went out to Nashville, Tennessee.
Even pro athletes have a taste for the authentic recipe. "We had one instance where we had a call from the center of the Green Bay Packers who had our sausage," he said. "We shipped sausage out to him in Green Bay, Wisconsin. So that was pretty cool!"
Scapelliti's follow the same sausage recipe as Dominic's grandfather, also named Dominic, who opened the grocery store on Clinton Street in Lockport, more than 80 years ago. His daughter-in-law, Elma, remembers the early days working with her husband, Joe, "He worked the meat counter and I worked the front checkout and little by little we made it."
That's thanks to longtime, happy customers who have become friends over the year, according to Dominic. "When he first came over everyone helped everyone," he said. "That's how my grandfather started the business and it blossomed into what we have today."
Ten years ago, they moved from the Clinton Street to a new location at 7084 Chestnut Ridge Road. In October, they built a brand new store at that site featuring a Tim Horton's, fish fries, pizza and subs, along with the meat counter and pastry selection.
Some popular items aren't made by the Scapelliti family, but they go out of their way to get them. Once a week, they make a trip to Canada to purchase Metro Italian Bread. "They used to deliver to the stores and they stopped so we decided to take it upon ourselves to go and get the bread," said vice president Samuel Scapelliti, who is 4th generation in the family business.
He says he's cautious as he adds a modern twist to the operation. "We still like to go by the old. That's how we got started so you don't want to steer away too much from that," he said. "But as far as the prepared foods, that's a new thing for us and it's been great."
Sam says the Tim Horton's franchise inside Scapelliti's has also become a "great partnership" as he sees new customers stopping in for coffee, along with lottery tickets and gas, allowing Scapelliti's to compete with larger chain stores.
Later this month, Scapelliti's will receive a small business award from the Niagara USA Chamber.
As they look for more ways to expand the fourth generation business, some of the best ideas are still coming from the second generation. Even though her 90th birthday is right around the corner, Elma still heads to work every day. When asked if she still gives advice on how to run the store, she chuckles, saying, "Oh, yes!"