To celebrate National Spaghetti Day on January 4, we took a visit to Pallucca’s Meat Market and Deli. We interviewed owner, Ethan Edwards, about the history of the deli and the popularity of the pasta recipes that have been around for years.
Pallucca’s Meat Market and Deli began as a small grocery store in 1909 in Frontenac, Kansas. Originally a partnership between immigrants Attilio Pallucca and Enrico Moriconi, the Pallucca family maintained full ownership of the store from 1912 until 2014. Pallucca’s moved from Cherokee Street to its current location on East McKay in 1930.
Unlike today’s aisle-lined grocery stores, Pallucca’s customers picked out food on shelves behind store employees, who collected the groceries for each shopper. Many of the old legends people tell about the Pallucca’s backroom come from these days. Previous owner Dick Pallucca denied most of them when he ran the store, calling them “tall tales that keep getting taller.”
What was true about Pallucca’s in the mining days and Great Depression was that it extended credit to shoppers (including coal miners) struggling to pay for their food. Dick Pallucca told about these miners, who, “could be in the worst state, and still struggling, but whenever that next payday came and they had enough money, they were back in the store paying us back.”
In 2009 the grocery store was remodeled to refine their efforts toward a meat market and deli. Soon after, Pallucca’s was sold by Dick’s children to current owner Ethan Edwards. Edwards has run the store since 2014 and continues to serve lunch and cater events through the deli along with operating the convenience store. “We’re really known for our homemade italian sausage, our ‘garlic sausage that you can taste for days’, as people like to refer to it as, and of course our popular dishes: rigatoni and sausage or spaghetti and meatballs that we do for our lunch specials or our catering.”
The meat market and deli continues to thrive on the quality of their authentic meals (original recipes preserved in what Edwards calls the “store Bible”), their tradition, and established presence with Crawford County. “You really get that small town connection,” Edwards believes. “The reoccurring people that keep coming in; people get so excited when they come in and it makes you enjoy it. You realize… how many people appreciate the store still being open.”
Pallucca’s is open at 207 E McKay Street in Frontenac every Monday through Saturday 9:00-6:00 p.m., with lunch specials served Monday through Friday 11:30-1:00 p.m.