What Black Friday is to Christmas, Good Friday is to Easter at Martin Rosol’s Meats in New Britain.
“So worth it; the best kielbasa ever,” Jessica Zabbara of Wolcott summarized as she left with her holiday bundle. “It took us like 25 minutes to get here. This is our third year coming. We’ve got our Easter kielbasa and our kabanosy. Usually there’s a two-hour wait to get in here.”
Jessica and her mother Sharon were lucky during this year’s pilgrimage, getting in right away during a rare lull.
“It’s a tradition that we come and get their Easter kielbasa, and we get the kabanosy – that’s one of my husband’s favorites,” said Sharon. “And we have to get the beer mustard to go with it.”
That word, “tradition,” is mentioned often in the same sentence as “Rosol’s” and “Easter.”
“I came here for the Easter kielbasa. It’s been a family tradition to pick up a kielbasa a couple days before Easter,” Paul Melzen of Farmington echoed.
For those unfamiliar, Rosol’s has been meting out meats since 1928, now a fourth-generation family business. Although it offers a wide variety of delights for the carnivorous, Rosol’s is a kielbasa capital in the time leading to Easter.
“We go through about 100,000 pounds of the smoked kielbasa in the last four weeks, and probably about 50,000 pounds of the fresh kielbasa,” plant manager Teddy Rosol detailed, adding that he slightly prefers the fresh version to the smoked variety.
“It’s still the same recipes from 1928, you know, fresh ingredients, never frozen, fresh spices,” he said.
For workers, the hours are as long as the lines of legions who queue up early.
“Our Easter hours are Monday through Friday, 7 to 5,” Teddy Rosol said with only the slightest hint of weariness in his smile. “And then, tomorrow – on Saturday – it’s going to be 7 to 12 [noon].”
Even for employees not named Rosol, it’s easy to get swept up in the kielbasa craze.
“It’s really great coming to work at six, seeing a line out the door,” said Jason Monteleone, who does everything from preparing the seemingly endless links of kielbasa to helping customers directly. “Yesterday I came in to work at, like, 6:20, and there were already people at the gate begging to come in.”
Teddy Rosol explains that they all average about four hours of sleep during the final week of Lent, satisfying not just walk-up customers, but orders from much farther afield.
“We have people coming from New York and Massachusetts this morning, a big order from Long Island, Rhode Island,” said Rosol. “Sometimes it’s one, two, sometimes it’s 10. They wait for the fresh kielbasa and the smoked kielbasa, because that’s what they want this time of year.”
And, by all appearances, the Rosol family is poised to link together many future Easter seasons.
“Every year we get better with efficiency, and we’re producing more pounds every year.”