Tonawanda News — After nearly 90 years of Budwey’s stores in North Tonawanda and other locations in Western New York, the community was stunned in October when word emerged that owner Frank Budwey planned to sell his stores to Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative.
Budwey, who represents the third generation of his family to be involved in the grocery business, cited a wish to spend more time with his grandchildren.
“I’m going to miss seeing all the employees, all the customers and all that stuff that goes with business,” he said in October. “I want to thank the public in Erie and Niagara counties for supporting us for the last 86 years. Without the customers and staff we wouldn’t have been able to survive these many years.”
While Budwey said in mid-October that control of the stores would change in the next 30 to 60 days, he said in a recent message that it was going to take a little longer, due to “a little delay with the attorneys” but that the deal is still on.
“It looks like I will be finishing the deal by the end of February,” he said.
The history of Budwey’s grocery stores in the area began in 1922, when Saltonia Budwey opened a small store at 452 Oliver St. in North Tonawanda. As the years went on, her son, James Budwey, took over the business and grew it — moving the store and opening two more stores in the City of Tonawanda and Amherst, as well as a restaurant.
When James Budwey died suddenly in 1952, his wife Flora Budwey found herself a business owner while caring for four young children. Rather than selling, she consolidated and kept the Division Street, North Tonawanda, store going, eventually expanding again.
“She’s my hero,” Budwey said of his mother. “Back then, it was a man’s world in business. She stepped up and kept the stores running.”