Gunzeys gets fair favorite into grocery stores
Harold “Gunzey” Gonzales (center) surrounded by family, from left, young children in front — Victoria, Trent, Tobin and Talen; standing: Trevor, Cassie, Laura West, Tris West, Theresa West, Todd West, Taffney Strous and Mark Strous.
BY TABITHA GOODLING / For The Daily Item
MILTON — Gunzey’s Hot Sausage concession stand is all about family.
The traveling business celebrates 50 years of serving the community this year and is making its Italian sausage available to the public year-round with Gunzey’s Go Grocery.
Harold Gonzales started the business in 1963 during his vacation from engineering on the railroad. His very first concession was at the Bloomsburg Fair, and he has re turned every year since then as well as traveling to fairs and carnival grounds all over central and western Pennsylvania.
“Gunzey” is how Gonzales is known to his friends. At age 88 he still helps feed the crowds with a smile. Gunzey’s wife, Lois, who he called “the brains” of the operation, has since passed away.
Now the business is operated by his daughter and grandchildren with the help of his great-grandchildren.
Grandchildren Taffney Strous and Tris West are trying to keep Gunzey’s legacy going.
Part of that effort is to put the sausage into local grocery stores.
“We’re really excited about going into the grocery stores.” Strous said, “We have people tell us all of the time, ‘We wish we could get this all year round.’ Now, I tell them, ‘You can get this all year round!'”
Making the move to place the sausage into the stores was a big decision for Gunzey, said West. “My grandparents were even reluctant to sell T-shirts. They just don’t want their name to be misrepresented.”
Once Gunzey was assured of his grandchildren’s reasoning, he was happy to oblige, West said.
“My sister and I wanted to honor my grandfather and this legacy.” He added, “Anything that honors my grandparents gets me excited.”
Currently the sausages are available for purchase at Lingle’s Neighborhood Market in Renovo, Watsontown and Jersey Shore, as well as Country Cupboard in Lewisburg, Ard’s Farm Market in Lewisburg, TJ’s Market in Hughesville and Lucky Seven Meats in Lock Haven.
Their grandparents’ life story is one both Strous and West admire. They recall Lois telling stories about their grandfather, a Marine Corps veteran, and how he operated a few restaurants in Milton early in his career.
“I say to my son, ‘You’re in charge for the next 50 years.'”
-Tris West, of Gunzeys
“When the kids got older he bought the concession,” Strous said, “My mom was 16 at the time.”
When the grandchildren came along, both West and Strous helped at the stand, too. West recalled each night after closing he would help his grandmother count money. She would then fill his mind with words of wisdom and experience that only a grandmother could say — from basic math skills to how to communicate with people and solve problems.
“Those stories shaped me into who I am,” West said.
Over the years the Gonzales family met other concession families and even witnessed some of those businesses — and their families — fall apart.
“But our business was about family first,” West said.