Local economic development officials are crafting an incentive package that may help the owners of the English Pork Pie Co. LLC fulfill its dream of not only expanding in Buffalo but creating an English village that could become a tourist attraction.
Representatives, including those from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, met Nov. 7 with Damian and Vicky Parker to discuss their plans. English Pork Pie, a company the Parkers founded, was considering this summer moving from Cheektowaga to Ohio, but, instead opted to operate its factory in Buffalo and construct a replica English village around their plant.
Development costs have not yet been determined.
"It's a big ask," Damian Parker said.
John Cappellino, Erie County Industrial Development Agency executive vice president and director of business development, said he wants to work with the Parkers to put together an incentive package that includes a low-cost hydropower allocation, tax credits through New York's Excelsior program and ECIDA-backed tax breaks.
"Hopefully we can get all the incentives together that Damian needs," Cappellino said. "This is exactly the type of entrepreneurial project we want to see happen in Buffalo."
English Pork Pie will stay in Buffalo, if it can receive a public-sector incentive package that makes its lofty expansion plans possible.
Damian Parker said remaining in Buffalo is the best option for their plans but they need incentives.
The English Pork Pie Co. makes a variety of pork and beef-based pies along with other English food favorites including Cornish Pasties and Sausage Rolls. The British-born Parkers started their company slightly more than two years ago. They grew and expanded and, until this past August, had leased 6,000-square-feet on Broadway in Cheektowaga.
The Parkers had planned to phase out the Cheektowaga operation and shift to a Youngstown, Ohio suburb where they had an option on a 24,000-square-foot building.
However, just days before that deal was completed, the Parkers found a 37,000-square-foot plant at 1176 South Park Ave. in South Buffalo on the former Village Farms property. The site sits on seven acres of land.
The Parkers have the property under contract.
The property would also allow Parker to follow through on their dream of creating a "British Village" with small shops selling freshly made, British desserts, breads, ales, fish and chips and an authentic pub. Some housing may also be included.
"We're trying our best to build out this tourist attraction for Buffalo," Damian Parker said. "We are sinking every penny we make into the project."
Also in the works is automated pie-making machine that could help with the Parkers dream of creating a greater flow of pies that would sold through their company as well as other retailers. Talks are underway with Wegmans Food Markets and Premier Gourmet Shop.
Buffalo is ideal for a number of reasons including English Pork Pie already having an established base, plus its proximity to Canada. The British village concept would be heavily marketed in Southern Ontario,
Damian Parker said the entire complex could employ more than 300 people.
But, Parker reiterated, incentives are the key.
"I know what we are planning isn't going to be cheap, that's why we need the help," Parker said.