The newest chapter of the Valenti’s markets is unfolding today in St. Peters. The story began in 1937 when Frank Valenti’s grandfather opened a store at Jefferson and Cass. Frank’s father and uncle took over the family business and opened a store on Vandeventer and Maffit in the old Maffit Theatre. That store was open from 1957 to 1965 when the owners were shot and killed in a hold-up.
“I was married and had just turned 21,” Frank Valenti said. “I was working that night with my father and my uncle…it was New Year’s Eve. Three or four guys came into the store and it was very crowded at that time. My dad and uncle tried to stop them, but they thought there were only two men, and didn’t see the other two in the background.”
His father was able to shoot one of the burglars who later gave a full confession in the hospital.
Frank Valenti carried on the family business.
“There wasn’t much choice,” he said. “My dad left five children at home ranging in age from 4 to 16. My uncle had five children at home from 2 years to about 15 years. There were 11 children at home and two mothers without income, so I more or less had a baptism by fire.”
He ran the store until 1980 and then moved to a store in Black Jack on Parker Road and Old Halls Ferry.
“We ran that business until 1996 or 1997 and things got a little slow, “Valenti said. “I sold the business and went to work for Carmen Manino for five years as the head meat cutter.”
Once again the opportunity came to buy his own store, and Frank took that opportunity, willingly this time. With financial help form his siblings and his children, Valenti purchased Valenti’s at 6750 Mexico Road in St. Peters (formerly owned by a distant cousin). His sister, Pat Evola, works with him.
“Now we have a meat market, a deli and a bakery, ” Valenti said. “We have a great selection of meats, including beef, pork and chicken. We offer sandwiches and all kindsof Italian specialty items. My sister bakes pies fresh every day, and the last owner still bakes fresh bread every day. We also have fresh chicken and beef spedini, Italian sausage, olives and cheeses.
Valenti invited his Black Jack customers to make the short trip to St. Peters.
“We have all their favorites – different steaks and roasts,” he said. “I want people in St. Peters to know that this is a personal meat market. The meat is cut fresh daily and customers can talk to the butcher and get their cuts of meet the way they want it. Personalized service is key. If they want thin or thick steaks or particular kind of roast, we do it right then and there. Everything is done on the premises.”
Orders to go are not a problem. Valenti said his sister makes gourmet platters, shrimp trays, two-foot sub sandwiches, and mosticcioli for a large crowd.
“We also have fresh meat packages for the home freezer,” he said. “Everything is freezer wrapped and it saves our customers time and money. We have a family special which has ground beef, beef roast, pork steaks, chicken and sirloin steaks… 50 pounds for $139. We’ve sold quite a few of those since we opened.”
Valenti’s Meat Market & Bakery is open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Stop by and experience Pat’s freshly prepared spedini and veal parmesan, ready to take home and cook. Pat also makes lasagna and home made spaghetti sauce.
Valenti dedicated his newest chapter to his brother, Peter.
“He was a very outgoing person, and everyone knew him and thought the world of him,” he said. “We were in business together in Black Jack, and he passed away from diabetes and cancer complications a year ago.”
Valenti also wanted to thank his brothers and sisters and his children.
“I owe it all to my family,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it financially or physically by myself. I also want to thank my wife of 39 years, Mary Ann and our six children and 13 grandchildren.”