Three generations of family ownership and a well-placed handoff have added up to a century’s worth of accomplishment for V. Czapiga & Son, a Meriden staple built on Polish heritage and renowned Polish sausage. It’s a remarkable success story that was celebrated recently by the Midstate Chamber of Commerce.
Raymond Czapiga and his wife, Judy, took the opportunity of a visit from Florida to attend the ceremony. Ray took over the business in the early 1980s from his father, Walter, who had taken over from his father, Valentine Czapiga.
Valentine Czapiga moved to the U.S. from Poland in 1912, taking along with him a predilection for spiced sausage. His first market opened on Meriden’s Veteran Street in 1918. The business moved to Cooper Street in 1963.
Immigrants are the backbone of the United States, and that backbone is built in many ways, and this is one of the great stories.
When Ray Czapiga took over the business it had become a popular spot for lunch, as well as a meat shop. After 26 years, he closed the deli to concentrate on his catering business. The business would open on holidays like Easter and Christmas so that those who had come to depend on the family’s sausage in their holiday fare, a tradition spanning generations, would not be disappointed.
Then, in 2009, the store was purchased by Walter Paluszewski and his aunt and uncle, Diane and Joe, and resumed running on a daily basis. Paluszewski and his wife, Patti Shara, now operate the business.
All that history adds up to something very special, and for the chamber to offer honors was more than fitting.
Paluszewski said he hopes there will be granchildren to help keep the store alive for another 100 years. We whole-heartedly support that possibility.