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Nick's Picks: Zweigle's

If you went to a party, cookout, or barbecue this past Memorial Day Weekend, it’s likely that you were in the presence of a Rochester institution. For 585 residents, a Zweigle’s hot dog on the grill is treated as a prerequisite at any outdoor gathering. Because of its ubiquitous nature in Western New York, the unique history behind Zweigle’s is often overlooked.

Founded as a butcher shop in 1880 by C. Wilhelm and Josephine Zweigle, this brand has grown into a nationally known manufacturer with dozens of award-winning products. Throughout its 138-year history, Zweigle’s has remained true to its family values and humble Rochester roots. Even with several expansions and steady growth, Zweigle’s resists the temptation to sell or move to a bigger market, keeping its base of operations in an unassuming building in the city’s Plymouth Avenue neighborhood. Julie Camarado-Steron, the current Zweigle’s CEO and great-great granddaughter of C. Wihlem and Josephine, hopes to continue Zweigle’s strong relationship with Rochester.

“Growing up around Zweigle’s, it was kind of just where mom worked and where my grandfather worked,” says Camardo-Steron. “Now that I work in the business, I really truly see firsthand the impact Zweigle’s has on this community and how important Rochesterians are to our success.”

While many local businesses have come and gone in Rochester since 1880, Zweigle’s has remained a mainstay because of its consistency and reliability offering  affordable, quality products for all ages and classes. The Zweigle’s brand further deepens its Rochester roots by selling its hot dogs and sausages at community events, as well as Red Wings, Amerks, Rhinos, Knighthawks, and RIT games.

“We’re constantly supporting events where we have an opportunity for consumers to experience our products,” says Steve Vacanti, Zweigle’s vice president of marketing and sales.

Zweigle’s intersection with Rochester and its presence at fun, local events is displayed in a new branding campaign called Connect to Home, which aims to capture the feelings and memories Zweigle’s produces for its fans.

“When you think of Rochester, Zweigle’s is one of the things that people mention,” says Vacanti. “So the idea is that regardless of if you’ve moved away, or if you’re out of town, every time you think of Zweigles, it’s a connection to home.”

Zweigle’s is not stagnant in its success—Camardo-Steron plans on doubling sales within the next five years. A big part of this growth plan is a diversification of products. Where hot dogs are largely a warm-weather food, Zweigle’s recently released two lines, Mama Camardo’s and Savory Sensations, which are less seasonal. Mama Camarado’s is an Italian-inspired homestyle line of meatballs and Italian sausage, and the Savory Sensations line includes chicken breasts and breakfast sausage patties and links. Zweigle’s also plans to increase sales in the immediate future by focusing its research and development on premade meals and health-focused products

As Rochester continues along a positive upward trajectory that sees new businesses and restaurants opening weekly, Zweigle’s acts as an example for all, one that has stood tall through good times and bad.

Follow Nick’s Picks on Twitter @NicksPicks585.

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