It looks like Budwey’s Markets could live to see its 100th birthday.
After announcing in October that he would sell the namesake stores that his grandmother founded in 1922, Frank Budwey said he just can’t bear to retire and will keep his North Tonawanda and Newfane stores after all.
“I had a good deal on the table, but my heart wasn’t in it to walk away,” Budwey said. “I just couldn’t do it.”
Though Budwey had already sold the Kenmore Avenue Budwey’s location to Dash’s Markets and had negotiated to sell the remaining two stores to his supplier, Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, in the end, he just couldn’t pull the trigger.
The outpouring of sentiment from his large and loyal customer base tugged at him, as did the idea that he couldn’t guarantee jobs for some of his more than 200 employees.
“I was born and raised in North Tonawanda, and I want to see the neighborhood store hang around, so the best way to do it was for me to stay here and keep it going,” Budwey said.
With the Kenmore store off his plate, Budwey said, he can focus more time and energy on the other two stores without being stretched too thin.
Olean Wholesale could not be reached to comment, but Bud- wey said it has expressed its delight that Budwey’s is staying and that it doesn’t have to search for another independent operator to take over the two stores.
It’s not the first time Budwey has tried – and failed – to leave the grocery business he says is in his blood.
In 1995, he sold Budwey’s Bells to Jubilee in order to pursue real estate.
He developed the plaza on Division Street that surrounds the North Tonawanda Budwey’s store and opened a laundromat, but it wasn’t the same.
“I was missing the food business,” he said.
In May 2000, he bought his store back from Jubilee. He stayed with Jubilee for two years before joining Olean Wholesale.
As the end drew near, Budwey said, he started to have similar misgivings about leaving the business.
“It seemed like I would have a big void in my life,” Budwey said. “And I figured I can still spend time with my grandchildren because I’m the boss and I can sneak out whenever I want.”