First Quality Sausage House Lives Up To Its Name
The secluded Safety Harbor shop has a reputation for selling some of the finest meats in the area.
If you’ve driven north along Ninth Avenue, chances are you’ve seen the First Quality Sausage House.
It’s the building on the opposite side of the train tacks that’s surrounded by a high fence and decorated with colorful plants and wall hangings.
But despite its fenced-off exterior and somewhat mysterious name, the place is exactly what it says it is – a shop that specializes in quality homemade sausage, bacon and other products.
“We carry around 50 types and flavors of sausage and kielbasa, but we also have homemade bread, hams, salami, special order cakes and European sweets,” owner Aniko Rakoczi said.
“Our stuffed cabbage, meatloaf and fried bacon are also favorites, and so is the homemade strudel,” she added.
So how did a place that cranks out sausage like a factory and makes hundreds of hams for Easter dinner find a home in Safety Harbor? Glad you asked.
History of the Sausage House
Started by George Hudak, a Hungarian refugee with a knack for creating delicious meat products, Rakoczi and her family came upon the place after they escaped from the Communist European country in 1982.
In 2003, the pair of sausage makers struck a deal to sell the business to Rakoczi, and she has been making magnificent smoked meats from her secret recipes there ever since.
“It's hard work to keep the sausage house running, but I forget all that when I talk to customers,” she said.
“I love to work with people and see how happy they are when they eat good food - especially around the holidays when you can bring great eats to the table.”
The Sausage House may be open only three days a week, but that's because the rest of the time, they are busy cranking out the hickory-smoked meats.
"When we're open, that's the easy time," Rakoczi said with a laugh.
The First Quality Sausage House might be tucked away in a lightly visited section of Safety Harbor, but that doesn’t mean Rakoczi’s work is going unnoticed.
The Chamber of Commerce named the shop the Best Small Business in Safety Harbor in 2006; it has been featured in the Tampa Tribune, on local television shows, and in the aforementioned Times article; and customers will go to great lengths to keep consuming their savory sausages.
“One former Safety Harbor resident who moved to Alaska wrote me and asked me to ship my sausages out to her,” Rakoczi admitted.
“I told her it would cost about $100 to ship to her, and she said she didn’t care, it wasn’t Christmas without my sausages!”
But the meat, which is smoked in an oven that can hold up to 600 pounds of sausage, isn’t the only reason people keep coming back to the Sausage House.
“I like to be friendly with the customers,” the affable Rakoczi explained. “I have a few customers who come in just to talk.”
"I love Safety Harbor because it reminds me a bit of Europe and the city I grew up in,” she added. “There's a nice atmosphere, constant entertainment, unique foods, and a great Main Street."
Address: 605 Ninth Ave. N.
Hours: Thu, Fri, Sat, 9am - 6pm