European Homemade Sausage Shop: Old world delicacies meet Facebook
During the final days of 2009, after the annual Christmas rush, Frank Jakubczak closed his family business in the heart of the ethnic South Side and prepared to settle into a well-earned retirement.
Over 36 years, the Polish immigrant had built his European Homemade Sausage Shop on Muskego Avenue into a strong enough enterprise to raise three children and help them get good educations.
The small store's refrigerated display cases were cleaned out and the door locked as 2010 approached. It was time for Frank to kick back.
But Jakubczak soon returned to the kitchen, European Homemade Sausage Shop has a slick website, and more than 1,300 people like it on Facebook. What happened?
A few months into retirement, Easter loomed on the calendar, and Frank got the itch. His family got the itch.
And his customers certainly got the itch. They filled the closed store's telephone answering machine with panicky messages.
"I told my wife I was going to open the shop for Easter," the 75-year-old Jakubczak recalled last week. "She didn't believe me at first.
"I was missing my customers. It's a good feeling when your customers compliment you and what you make."
Not only did the sausage master fire up his smoker and grinder for the holiday, he decided to end his retirement, with some accommodations for his advancing years. The shop is open only Thursday through Saturday, with two large exceptions – Christmas and Easter.
The run-up to those holidays has traditionally been crazy busy in the store, and beginning today, it is open Monday through Saturday until Easter. It closes from noon to 3 p.m. on Good Friday.
Jakubczak makes and sells about a half ton of sausage during the average three-day week. That increases fivefold on pre-holiday weeks.
It makes no difference that the ethnic composition of the store's neighborhood has changed from eastern European to Hispanic since Frank bought the old Nimmer Meat Market in 1973 and transformed it into European Homemade Sausage. Customers drive long distances to stock up on such vanishing delicacies as Swedish potato sausage, Hungarian headcheese, and five different varieties of blood sausages.
Jakubczak makes mild and spicy dried hunter's sausage, so named because it is an easy snack for hunters to stuff into pockets while walking fields and forests. He is among a handful of craftsmen making Slovenian sausage in this country. His shop sells four varieties.
Fresh and smoked Polish sausage are the biggest sellers, and Frank also offers such mainstream products as brats, Italian sausage and breakfast pork sausage. Canadian bacon, ham shanks, smoked butt and smoked spare ribs are also available. Internet orders were shipped to all 48 contiguous states last year.
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Frank and his employees make going to the food store a real blast. Truly old fashion customer service with a little light conversation for no extra charge. I give this business alot of credit since one of the best Facebook messages I get almost daily is from European Homemade Sausage shop with an owner in his 70's!!!!! Great products your grill will never be angry again at you for bringing home dinner. Keep up the great work Frank and all.
Andy J | March 26, 2012 at 11:07 a.m. (report)
We love the article, Damien. Thank you for sharing my father's story to your readership at OnMilwaukee.com. All the best to you and yours. - Andy J
hands down the best sausage you can get. no place comes close.
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