The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Business

December 22, 2012

Distribution deal boosts pierogi business

— By Anson Lantzy’s count, he’s filled 2 million pierogi since founding That Pierogi Place 12 years ago.

Thanks to a new deal with an Altoona distributor, he’ll be making plenty more.

Lantzy said Bee Line Wholesalers will be buying up to 15,000 of the potato-filled Polish dumplings a week – nearly three times the usual batch he cooks up for local buyers.

Bee Line supplies goods to small grocery chains and independent markets across a 10-county area that spans Cambria to Elk counties, its website shows.

And plans have been worked out to put Lantzy’s pierogi in a handful of stores, including the Seward Bi-Lo, JG Food Warehouse in Clearfield and Shop ‘n Save in Houtzdale, Bee Line owner Randy Donnelly said.

“I’m still making arrangements with some of the stores we supply to,” he said. “But I expect (Lantzy’s) product will be in several dozen grocery stores within the next month or two.”

That’s “a big deal” for Lantzy, who makes his pierogi weekly in his Solomon Street shop.

“When you’are talking about grocery store chains, it’s hard to get a foot in the door,” Lantzy said. “If it weren’t for this deal, I might have been done.”

Lantzy said he recently lost deals to stock his pierogi at Giant Eagles on Scalp Avenue and Broad Street because they are no longer under local ownership.

It’s not nearly as easy to get local products in corporate locations, he said.

The pierogi remain on freezer shelves at several area locations, including Johnstown-area Ideal Markets, Market Basket on Scalp Avenue, Gold Crown Shop ‘n Save in Nanty Glo and Bi-Lo stores in Cambria Township and Northern Cambria.

Bee Line specializes in distributing snacks and frozens goods such as Ben & Jerry’s, Klondike and Good Humor ice cream.

But Donnelly expects That Pierogi Place pierogi will be popular in central Pennsylvania stores.

“It’s an excellent product. He makes a homestyle pierogi that people look for – and there’s certainly a market for that in this area.”

Lantzy currently makes potato cheddar, sauerkraut and potato, cheese and onion pierogi – but hopes to add a few more varieties soon.

He said it takes about 70 hours to make 15,000 pierogi, a task he uses a dough machine to accomplish.

It’s a challenge he embraces.

His latest arrangement with Bee Line likely will require him to make a part-time staffer into a full-timer. It will also mean adding an additional part-time position.

“I’m really excited,” Lantzy said. “Hopefully, this is just the start of bigger and better things.”

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