It was early in 1920 that John Mineo founded a small neighborhood meat market on Buffalo’s west side. Mineo’s Meat Market was located at 236 Massachusetts Avenue, in what was then a predominately Italian neighborhood. Mr. Mineo quickly earned a reputation for making excellent, fresh Italian Sausage. As the years passed both Mineo and his wife Bertha operated the meat market.
In 1951, Mr. Mineo invited his son-in-law, Ralph Sapio to join the business. Ralph, or “Cy”, as he was fondly known to all, was married to the Mineo’s daughter Verna. John Mineo entered retirement in 1957 and Cy Sapio became the sole proprietor, maintaining not only the market’s name, but its reputation for the finest Italian Sausage in Western New York. Although in poor health, Mr. Mineo kept his apartment above the Massachusetts Avenue store long after his retirement from the day-to-day operations, and could often be found checking in on various activities in the store! A forward thinker, Cy Sapio looked for ways to embrace new trends in the rapidly evolving markets of the early 1960's. Shifts in shopping options were threatening the small meat market, as large grocers offering one-stop shopping, and an emerging fast food business were quickly gaining popularity. Mr. Sapio realized he needed to adapt to the market changes.
Mr. Sapio targeted the fast food industry as a potential customer, but soon discovered that Italian Sausage was not well suited to the market because of its longer cooking time. Undaunted, Sapio then developed an Italian Sausage patty made with the same exacting standards established by Mr. Mineo some 40 years earlier. This new product offered the portion control, convenience, and quality demanded by the fast food industry.
In 1962, Michael Pierro, the current owner, then just 15 years old, started working part-time at the store. He worked for the business all through his high school years, and while attending college. Mike still chuckles, as he recalls saying “I would not continue to work in this business for all the money in the world.“ This is a phrase he has repeated many times over the years. It was actually Mike, who is credited with changing the name of the store. Always known as Mineo’s Meat Market, one day Mike picked up the phone and said ”Mineo & Sapio's ! ”; the name stuck, and was never changed. Eventually Mike moved on to pursue other endeavors, but in 1975 he returned to the meat business and began working full time for Mr. Sapio. Mike was preparing to buy the business from Cy Sapio in 1976, when Mr. Sapio’s sudden, and untimely death precluded the process, which was completed in time through Mr. Sapio’s widow.
In 1984, Mike Pierro moved the business from the original Massachusetts Avenue storefront to the current shop at 410 Connecticut Street. In a ribbon cutting ceremony with then Mayor Jimmy Griffin, the Pierro family celebrated the official opening of the new location for Mineo & Sapio Italian Sausage! The next few years brought changing market trends and a demand for more prepared foods. Most companies that served meatballs were making their own, and complaining about the inconvenience. At that point, Mike recalls, “The light bulb went on”, Mike decided to add meatballs to the Mineo & Sapio repertoire - and further, to use his mothers time honored recipe. However, to Mikes surprise, when he asked his mother, she laughed and said “What recipe?!”
Mike pressed on, discovering that his sister had already learned to make the family recipe, and while being taught verbally by their mother, she had also estimated amounts and written down particulars with formal instructions for the process. Mineo & Sapio Italian Brand Meatballs debuted in 1978. True to its company roots, the Mineo & Sapio meatballs were sold as a prepared food, convenience item; never portrayed to be superior in taste. Mike explains “You could not dare tell customers your product was better than theirs.“ After the meatballs were launched, Mike also added a cooked variety.
Still known as Mineo & Sapio Italian Sausage, they offer the same varieties of original recipes created by Mr. Mineo, as well as many new innovations. Most of their products are available in fresh and pre-cooked options, accommodating customers looking for convenience and time-saving options, as well as those who prefer the original time-honored products.
Mineo & Sapio maintains a family atmosphere, while striving to adapt to changes and the needs of our loyal patrons. To meet the requests of healthy choice customers they now manufacture a line of low-fat chicken products, and they taste delicious! Federally inspected and fully USDA certified, all Mineo & Sapio Italian Sausage products are authorized for sales to restaurants, retail and wholesale accounts, and across state lines. They continue to maintain our very quaint store at 410 Connecticut Street, where they feature the complete line of Mineo & Sapio products, many of which are not available in all retail outlets. You will find Mineo & Sapio Italian Sausage brand products featured by name on many local restaurant menus! Our Connecticut Street store is also the beta-test market for all of our innovative new creations.