Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bye, Friends

I called Fragozo's today to place an order for linguica and chourico and got the answering machine and found out that this fantastic company was no longer in business. So far as I know this restaurant has only used this brand of both sausages for the entire 18 years of it's existence, it is the one ingredient we use that I didn't want to try making for myself just because I really, really liked the product and the folks who made it.
I like our Italian sausage just fine, but I get it through either of the giant food suppliers I buy from with no contact with the company, and I can make a pretty good Italian sausage for half the price; same with canadian bacon.
I would have known sooner if I ordered online, but I never liked doing that because I always enjoyed talking to Alison; she has a great accent and great sense of humor and was always more than willing to go out of her way to help, from walking me through my orders the first few (ok, most) times, making suggestions based on past use and shipping. Once, when I desperately needed some linguica air shipped after their UPS pick up she said, "Aw, what the heck, I'll just throw it on my bike and drop it off at the UPS store on the way home."
That's customer service.
The article below is from a link on Fragozo's web site. The last line gives me hope, in the mean time I'll be looking at some sausage making equipment.

Recession was last straw for struggling New Bedford linguica maker

By BECKY W. EVANS May 07, 2009 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD — After 88 years and three generations of sausage-making, New Bedford Linguica Co. Inc. has shut the doors of its North End factory and stopped production of the Fragozo family's spicy Portuguese pork sausage.
"The cost of doing business ... and the economy have made it more difficult for us to produce the high-quality product our customers are used to receiving," said Alison Fragozo Anselmo, the plant manager, who co-owns the company with her mother, sister and brother.
The bad economy made for expensive ingredients, high fuel costs and a decrease in demand from restaurants that were cutting back or closing, Anselmo said.
To stay in business, the company, which employed eight people, would have had to compromise the quality of its smoked sausage — something it was not willing to do, Anselmo said. So the Fragozo family decided to close the factory at 56 Davis St. and did so with little fanfare.
"We just informed our customers we were going out of business, and that was that," Anselmo said.
On April 20, the family posted a message on its Web site, notifying customers of the closing: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers for their years of support." The message cited the economy and "changes in federal regulations" as reasons for the closing, although Anselmo told a reporter it was not so much changes in regulations but the "cost of continuing to meet the demands" of expensive meat inspection requirements.
Fragozo and other local sausage producers submit to inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Anselmo's grandparents, John and Angelina Fragozo DeMello, founded New Bedford Linguica Co. in 1921. When her grandmother died in 1995, Anselmo's mother inherited the business and recruited her children to help produce linguica and chourico that was sold under the Fragozo brand.
Closing a business that had so much family history "is a sad thing," said Anselmo, who worked at the company for 15 years. She said she will miss talking with customers and watching them take their children to the same sausage factory they visited during their own childhoods.
Anselmo said Fragozo's customers "are heartbroken" by the closing.
"We are heartbroken, too," she said. "It was a business decision."
For two decades, Paul Innis bought Fragozo linguica for his Have a Clambake catering business in Wareham. "One of the features of a local clambake around here is the linguica," he said.
Innis said he chose Fragozo linguica because of the company's smoking process, which "made it a little different" from other local brands. With Fragozo exiting the Portuguese sausage industry, he said he probably will buy from one of the larger Fall River linguica companies.
Innis said it "was a shame" that the economy and regulations had forced "the little guy" out of the market.
The area's remaining Portuguese sausage producers include Gaspar's Sausage Co. Inc. in Dartmouth, Lisbon Sausage Co. (Amaral's) in New Bedford and Michael's Provision Co., Acoreana Chourico Manufacturing, Mello's North End Manufacturing Inc. and Furtado's in Fall River.
Those producers now will have to compete in an open-bid situation to determine who will get to supply linguica for the annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament in New Bedford, said Edward Camara Jr., director of media and public relations for the feast.
"It has to be a good price and a good product," he said.
In the past, Fragozo supplied linguica for the feast, including an order of 3,000 pounds of the spicy sausage for last year's festival, Camara said. Fragozo linguica had the perfect blend of spices and just the right amount of fat, he said.
"We have been dealing with them for a number of years and felt it was a very good product and they offered us a very good price," he said.
Anselmo said her family has yet to decide what will happen to the factory and its sausage-making machinery. But they have decided they will not reveal the secret blend of spices that won them loyal customers across the country and abroad.
"That's a family secret," Anselmo said. "You never know what the future holds."


Nan said...

I'm an old-timer who learned long ago that time marches on. But damn, Eric, this story makes me want to grab it around the throat to hold it back.

Maria said...

Damn fucking economy.

Terroni said...

Your comment on my blog today made me laugh...thanks for that.