Abruzzi continues family tradition with hot peppers - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Abruzzi continues family tradition with hot peppers

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WARREN, Ohio -

It's a taste from the past. 

For decades around here, the Abruzzi name made you think of good food. These days it's popping up again, this time in grocery stores on jars of their signature hot peppers.

When Bob Abruzzi retired and sold Abruzzi's Cafe 422 back in 2006, he had a feeling that wouldn't be the end of the story.

"I just can't get away from the food business," said Abruzzi.

So, a few years after those quirky commercials ran for the final time, he started canning hot peppers at home; just like his family served at the restaurant since the 1960s. Even then, he had no idea he'd suddenly be selling them in 46 stores around the area.

"No, no idea. No," said Abruzzi. "I just thought, well I'll have a few stores and play around with it a little bit. But then the stores started calling us and some of the people at Giant Eagle said we'd like to have you in this store, we'd like to have you in that store."

It's his way of carrying on a family tradition; one that's as much a part of the Valley's history as just about any other food.

"This is the hot pepper capital of maybe the world," said Abruzzi. "In this Mahoning Valley, the family tradition in peppers and restaurants is very big."

One of the best parts about them, the hot peppers almost act like a time machine. People who'd been to the restaurant decades ago taste them again and remember it well.

"I'm surprised. I'll sit back, I'm just doing my tastings and minding my own business, and people come to me and say, 'Hey, I had my rehearsal dinner at your place,' or, 'Hey, I worked for you 30 years ago," said Abruzzi. "I get many stories. People will stop. They'll want to talk to me. It's really a lot of fun talking to them about the old days."

Days that are here again in jars across the Valley, offering a taste of the past from a familiar face.

His son Brian helps as well, keeping that family tradition going. They do a couple tastings a week at stores around the area including one today at the Giant Eagle in Liberty from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

You can learn more at abruzzishotpeppers.com.

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