The Story of Chiavetta’s Catering – Family Farm to Buffalo Staple
There isn't a Buffalonian around who hasn't had Chiavetta's chicken. The full-service barbecue catering business is legendary for their slow-roasted chicken. The popular item can be found at most Western New York festivals and fairs, including the Erie County Fair.
With over 60 years of experience serving Western New York, Chiavetta's has expanded to multiple locations, full-service and take-out catering, and a take-out restaurant location. But how did it all begin?
Following World War II, the catering company evolved from a poultry farm owned by Thomas and Eleanor. Thomas was a poultry and egg farmer, and Eleanor a house wife. They learned about barbecuing through the Erie County Farm and Home Center in East Aurora and started catering weddings and banquets as they continued to operate Chiavetta's Churchside Farms. By 1957, they were catering bigger events and doing well enough to buy a new truck. Things continued to evolve from there.
The business is in the family's blood. Third generation Kathleen Chiavetta started working at the business when she was ten, packaging silverware. When she was 12, her dad began to put Chiavetta's famous barbeque marinade on the market. Kathleen would sit in a chair for nine hours and put the labels on the bottles by hand.
So in the late '80s if you got a bottle of barbeque sauce with a crooked label it was probably me," Kathleen jokes.
Kathleen notes that her kids started working with her when they were little as well. They tagged along to help in the dish room or the office. "It's just a thing in this family. You almost don't have a choice."
That's not a bad thing, however, as the family gets to spend a lot of time together and eats a LOT of chicken.
Even though usually about this time of year we are all kind of chickened out, we eat a lot of it and we love it. I think it's the best thing that we have," Kathleen says.
And while chicken is Chiavetta's trademark item, they have a lot more to offer customers. Barbeque chicken, breaded oven-baked chicken, roast beef on weck, charcoal roasted flank steak and strip steak, prime rib, pork chops, pasta, potato augratin, homemade potato salad, tossed garden salad, baked beans, dinner rolls, sheet cake, assorted cookies, mini cream puffs, brownies, baklava, mini quiche, Swedish meatballs, stuffed mushrooms – the menu goes on and on.
You can also purchase Chiavetta's barbeque marinade, bbq rib sauce and Italian dressing.
One of the most popular questions the Chiavetta's team gets is about the bottles of barbecue sauce they sell. People will call, saying, "I've had this barbecue sauce bottle in my pantry for five, six years, do you think it's okay if I use it?"
The answer? "Use your judgement, but yes. The longest I've heard is 10 years. Ten years, and someone still used it," Kathleen explains.
The business has expanded beyond family. During the peak of the year, which is around the Erie County Fair, they have 60-70 employees, going beyond just the family. And Chiavetta's has no signs of slowing down.
We're scouting for a third location. We're not quite sure where – somewhere between the Northtowns and the Southtowns, but we aren't quite sure yet."
It can be a lot of work, owning a local business as successful as Chiavetta's, but it's also rewarding.
You have to be willing to just work and work some more, to not do anything but work," Kathleen explains. "You have to be willing to put your blood, sweat and tears into it and to make it your baby and just feed it and nurture it."
Kathleen also adds that to be successful you have to be willing to do anything and everything in the business and never ask other people to do things that you are not willing to do yourself.
Main Location – Brant
Chiavetta's Catering Service, INC
10654 Brant-Angola Road
Brant, NY 14027
Chiavetta's BBQ Takeout
6100 Fisk Road
Lockport, NY 14094
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