How it all began

Written by Amber Kuzaro Henrich, Granddaughter of Don Kuzaro Sr.

Dan’s Better Meats

Don Kuzaro Sr. and his son Don Kuzaro Jr.“Don and Joe’s Meats” first started in 1906 when Dan Zido came to Seattle from Poland. Dan worked as an apprentice stuffing sausages for Frye Packing Plant. After working there 10 years, he and a man named Ziegler opened a butcher shop downstairs in the Pike Place Market. When opportunity knocked at his door, he bought out Ziegler in 1924 and moved the shop upstairs to where Don and Joe’s Meats is presently located. Dan named his shop, “Dan’s Better Meats” and it became the largest retail-wholesale meat market in the city of Seattle.

In the late 1940’s, Dan retired and his two son-in-laws, Pete Cuper and Tom Sandal, continued the operation after purchasing it. In 1951, Pete died and Tom continued working until he retired in 1964. His son, Dan Sandal took over the shop until 1969 where he established a wholesale meat operation at the north end of the Market. Dan sold the retail shop to my grandfather, Don Kuzaro, Sr. and his brother-in-law, Joe Darby.

Don and Joe’s Meats

Don and Diana KuzaroIn 1969, Don Kuzaro, Sr. and his brother-in-law, Joe Darby purchased Dan Sandal’s meat market and changed the name to Don and Joe’s Meats.The shop was successful but demanded long hours, seven days a week. My grandmother, Barbara, also came in and did the bookkeeping. My father, Don, Jr., began working at the shop after graduating from high school. Don and Joe saw many changes at the Market. They began in the meat business when they worked for Dan Sandal after serving in World War II. They saw the decline in the business in the 1950’s and early 1960’s as the Market competed against big supermarkets and suburban shopping centers. In the late 1960’s, the supermarkets began offering few services and the public wanted more. People started coming back to the Market and even more so when the campaign to “Save the Market” began.

Both Don and Joe were known as hard workers, helpful, friendly and ready to give out delicious recipes for different cuts and specialized meats. Personal service and high quality were always their main goal in making “Don and Joe’s Meats” successful.

Don, Jr.

Don Kuzaro King of the MeatMy father, Don Kuzaro, Jr., began working at Don and Joe’s meats in 1969 as a “clean-up kid”. He worked his way up to being a meat cutter while attending college. From 1972 to 1976, he served in the Navy, was honorably discharged, then continued working as a meat cutter at Don and Joe’s. In 1986, his father (Don, Sr.) and partner (Joe) sold the shop to my father. Don, Sr. continued to work part-time until his death in 1987 and Joe worked full time until he retired in 1989. Joe passed away in 2007.

Today, Don, Jr. and his crew continue the tradition of personal service, high-quality meats, and offer specialized cuts and items that are not available in most local supermarkets.