MAHOPAC FALLS, N.Y. - After more than five decades of service to the community, an iconic Mahopac business is changing hands.
Red Mills Market on South Lake Boulevard in Mahopac Falls was sold on June 28.
Its longtime owners, Ron and Regina Jedlicka, decided to retire and sold the business to Alex Dabashi, and his brother, Tommy, and his dad, Musleh, who were the franchise owners of the Key Food store in the Lake Plaza Shopping Center. That store was torn down to make way for a Stop & Shop.
“We have another Key Food store in Beacon, but after the loss in Mahopac we were looking for another location here,” said Alex Dabashi. “We like the area because we already know the customers and we were looking for a place to get back into it. It just so happened that Ron wanted to retire and so it happened.”
Jedlicka’s parents first opened the store in 1960 just down the road from where the business is currently situated. At that time, it was known as the Mahopac Falls Store.
“We grew out of that and needed more space,” Jedlicka said. “In 1966, the opportunity came up to buy the land and so we did and built the new store there.”
Jedlicka’s father got started in the grocery industry working for the now-defunct chain known as Daniel Reeves Stores (it merged with Safeway). After the merger, the family moved to Mahopac in 1950.
“We had neighbors who had the Mahopac Falls Store and they asked my dad to come help out,” Jedlicka said. “They ended up splitting up and so my dad bought out the grocery part of the [business].”
Jedlicka was 16 when he started working in the store after school and on weekends. He said he knew early on that he wanted to go into the family business.
“I enjoy people and that is what it is all about when you are in retail. You have to be a people person,” he said. “In big stores, you are treated terribly; they don’t say hello or smile. My employees were always taught to say ‘good morning’ and ‘have a great day.’ Just by being upbeat like that, you are going to feel better about yourself.”
Jedlicka said that is why his small mom-and-pop grocery was able to thrive for more than 50 years while facing competition from area big chain markets.
“We took care of the customer and maintained the quality of our products—the meat, bread,” he said. “Quality was the big thing. We made our own salads and our own sausage. No one makes sausages like we do.”
Dabashi said he will maintain that tradition.
“We will continue to make the sausage. We have the same people making it—the same crew—so there’s no reason for me to change it. The customers are used to it; the employees are used to it. All the salads are store-made and we will continue that as well.”
Jedlicka said through the years the store went through very few changes other than a remodel in 1996.
“We had a grand reopening,” he recalled. “We moved [walls] out closer to the front [parking lot] and pushed out the back. Inside the store, we did away with some storage and added more retail space. And we never closed during it. We did all the work at night.”
Jedlicka said all four of his children worked in the store at one time or another and have since gone on to have successful careers of their own. He believes working in the family business played a role in that success.
“When you run your own business, there is no such thing as ‘hours,’” he explained. “So, in their jobs, they were always there an hour earlier or left an hour later. When their bosses questioned them about it, [the bosses] would say, ‘now we know why your work ethic is the way that it is.’”
Jedlicka, who is 73 and boasts 10 grandchildren, said he has no misgivings about retirement.
“Not at all,” he laughed. “It’s not hard at all. I don’t have to say anymore that I can’t stay out too late because I have to get up in the morning.”
Plus, Jedlicka says he stops by the store several times a week to check in.
“We shop there!” he said.
Over the years, Jedlicka says he grew quite fond of the Mahopac Falls community—especially the fire department. If there was a fire in the middle of the night, he would open the store to help feed the firefighters.
“We would open the store to the auxiliary to help feed the firemen,” he said. “Community service—that’s what it is all about. They are volunteers who get up in the middle of the night and then have to go to work in the morning, so it was the least we could do.”
Dabashi said he respects the legacy the Jedlickas created and will work hard to maintain it.
“This is an old location and is well-known, which is why I decided not to change the name,” he said. “I will be buying [inventory] from Key Foods, but we are trying to keep the same philosophy [as Jedlicka]. We kept the same employees and are trying to keep the same methods of running the store with the exception of upgrading the equipment and remodeling a bit to give it a fresher look.”
Dabashi said he’s also looking to add more variety to the product offerings and expand the produce selection. He will welcome customer feedback.
“I will look to see what the customers are looking for,” he said. “These days, a lot of people like organic and natural and we don’t have that as much right now. I want to add more of that and expand the produce department. I want to work with a designer to make it a little bit bigger. It’s not big enough. Everything else seems to be OK.
“We hope to continue to provide good customer service, which is one of the reasons I kept all the employees,” he continued. “It works for me. For me, I am always a pleasant guy with the customers. Sometimes I see a customer here who knew me [from Key Foods] and they are happy to see me. They already know me.”
Dabashi said Red Mills customers have always loved the butcher department and he promised to continue to offer a variety of quality meats.
“I know a lot of [customers] don’t want change—especially with the meat. We will keep the same things,” he said. “If anything does change, it will be good for the store and good for the community. And we are open to any suggestions from customers as far as carrying a new product. I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve the community.”
Jedlicka said he is proud of the legacy that his family created with Red Mills Market and he’s confident the Dabashis will carry the torch.
“We carried packages out to the car for seniors and pregnant women; people don’t do that anymore,” he said. “You don’t see that anymore, but [Dabashi] will continue that. It’s what [the business] was built on.”