South Buffalo staple closing after 68 years of business

Posted at 5:18 PM, Nov 28, 2017

A South Buffalo staple is closing its doors after 68 years of business. Willowbrook Farms known for selling food, beer and restaurant supplies at wholesale prices is shutting down.

It sold its delivery food service to "Latina Boulevard Foods." So, commercial accounts won't be impacted. But, the cash and carry store for the public closes Friday, December 1. Signs are posted on the front doors. 

Eric Thuman's been a jack of all trades at Willowbrook for 30 years. “I started when I was 22. I worked here through a lot of ups and downs, snow storms and everything. It's just been home to me,” he explained.

But at 53, the future is unknown. Thuman is one of 22 employees out of a job come Friday. The news came as a shock. “I was in the middle of dinner. It was a sinking feeling.”

Owners for Willowbrook Farms didn't want to go on camera, but said the decision to sell the business was a difficult one and stems from the fact that there's no one in the family to take it over.

Longtime customer Colleen Czekaj only wishes they'd reconsider. “We would go from here to the Broadway Mkt., to the Bailey Mkt. and all over. It's just a great part of Buffalo. It's just a shame.”

Meantime, Thuman has applied with Latina Boulevard Foods. It will take over Willowbrook's delivery service for commercial accounts.  It's unclear though whether Latina is taking on new hires. Thuman wants things to stay the same. “I’m never going to find the same comfort of a job that I’ve had here.”

Here: where it was more like a second home, and his boss was more like family. “They would bend over backwards to do anything for you.”