Syracuse Sausage acquisition logical next step for Fort Worth family’s Standard Meat

Two family-owned businesses with deep roots in the local meat industry are now combined under a single ownership.

Fort Worth-based Standard Meat Co. has acquired Ponder-based Syracuse Sausage in a move that company leaders say is synergetic and preserves the legacy of Syracuse Sausage.

This was the first acquisition for Standard Meat, a company founded in 1935 by Russian Jewish immigrant Ben H. Rosenthal to supply meat products to local hotels and restaurants.

Standard Meat is now in the hands of his great-grandchildren, sister and brother, Ashli Rosenthal Blumenfeld and Ben Rosenthal, who see the move as a “chance to strengthen the company and make it better,” said Blumenfeld, co-president of the company.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

The acquisition was also a logical step for Standard Meat, which has had a decade-long relationship with Syracuse Sausage that began when the Rosenthal family invested in Syracuse through their private investment company. “We bought a management stake in the business and operated side-by-side with them,” said Rosenthal, CEO and co-president of Standard Meat. “We also sat on their board.”

Like Standard Meat, Syracuse Sausage was a start-up family business that seized an opportunity.

The Musacchio family of the Syracuse area of New York became acquainted with commercial Italian sausage-making when Joe Musacchio went to work for a local company.

Then, in the mid-1970s, a relative from the extended family moved to Flower Mound and realized, to his dismay, that the authentic Italian sausage he craved was nowhere to be found. After begging to have some sent to him, Joe Musacchio imagined the business possibilities, packed up and moved to Texas. In 1982, he founded Syracuse Sausage. His brothers, Anthony and Bobby, soon joined him and together they built a company that became known for the authentic sausage and meatballs of their heritage.

- Advertisement -

The company’s first big account was Tom Thumb, where Syracuse Sausage caught the attention of shopper Norman Brinker, the renowned Dallas-based restaurant owner and operator known for establishing chains such as Steak and Ale and Chili’s.

Brinker so enjoyed the taste of Syracuse Sausage products that he decided to order them for his restaurants. This big break for the company led to construction of a large production plant in Ponder and eventually to accounts with other national restaurant chains, grocery stores and food-service businesses.

When Joe Musacchio left the business to pursue other interests, Anthony and Bobby took over running it. In 2012, the brothers engaged with the Rosenthal family.

After 40 years in business, the Musacchio brothers were eyeing retirement and agreed to allow Standard Meat to acquire the company.

- Advertisement -

“We are thankful to the Rosenthal family and Standard Meat Co. for their partnership in the past, as well as what we know they’ll bring to Syracuse Sausage in the future,” Bobby Musacchio, former president of the sausage company, said in a statement.

“We talked about what they wanted for a long time,” Blumenfeld said. “Standard Meat does not take the business of integration lightly.

“We know it will take a lot of thoughtful work and planning and we are taking the time to do it right with as little disruption as possible,” she said.

Food industry veteran Chris Horan has been hired to lead the Syracuse Sausage division. Horan has had a business relationship with the Rosenthal family since 2006 and has served as a consultant to both Standard Meat and Syracuse Sausage.

“Chris is the right leader and the employees at Syracuse Sausage are a tremendous asset as we join forces,” said Rosenthal, who also manages Penrose, the family investment firm started by father Billy.

Syracuse Sausage continues to have a retail presence with Tom Thumb and Kroger but much of its business is in selling its products to restaurants and meal-kit companies. Syracuse’s customers include Rudy’s and Spring Creek barbecue, Torchy’s Tacos and Chili’s.

Similarly, Standard Meat is a global supplier for major restaurant chains, including casual and fast food operators, as well as supermarkets, e-commerce retailers and the exploding meal-kit market, with customers such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron.

Blumenfeld is a devoted fan of meal kits.

“I work full time and have two young children,” she said. “If I want to put a home-cooked meal on the table, it will have to show up with the help of a meal kit.”

Meal-kit sales were especially robust during the pandemic when restaurants were shut down or operated at limited capacity, Rosenthal said.

“As we’ve transitioned out of COVID, we’re doing really, really well again with restaurant sales,” Rosenthal said.

With the acquisition of Syracuse Sausage, business should be even better for Standard Meat.

“Syracuse’s capabilities and product offerings dovetail beautifully with our current operations and will open doors for new sales opportunities with current and target customers,” Rosenthal said.

Standard Meat now has more than 1,000 employees as a result of the acquisition. In addition to the Syracuse plant in Ponder in Denton County, Standard Meat operates plants in Duncanville in Dallas County and Saginaw in Tarrant County. The company’s headquarters is in the former Swift & Co. office building in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

The company could potentially open another plant but has no plans for another acquisition at this time.

“We will never say never,” Rosenthal said. “We want to continue to grow and we have been preparing for growth.”