As sauerkraut plant closes, residents fear losing jobs, town identity

(WHAM photo)

Shortsville, N.Y. (13WHAM) - Following GLK Food's announcement it'll close its Shortsville plant, residents and farmers say they're sad to be losing the jobs, and see the region's ties to sauerkraut fading away.

William Mallwitz owns Buffalo Bill's Family Restaurant. He says Shortsville's business center has shrunk over recent years. The fact that it's the kraut plant closing is salt in the wound.

"It's more than just nostalgia," said Mallwitz. "It's a substantial loss, and there's not many places to get a job here in Shortsville anymore."

According to Ontario County Economic Development, around 40 jobs will be lost.

Shortsville native Staci Swarner says the town's affiliation with sauerkraut might be odd. But it's always been a part of her home.

"It's a weird one to have, but every summer or fall, you know that smell," said Swarner. "It's not pleasant but it's part of the town. It's actually kind of part of your childhood memory."

Rick Pedersen, of nearby Pedersen Farms, sold cabbage to GLK for its sauerkraut. He says the close came as a shock at first, as he had been waiting on 2018 contract with the company when he got the notice of the closure via email.

"They've been dragging their feet on that. Now I know why," said Pedersen.

But he says between the state's business climate, and meteorological climate, it made more sense for the company to consolidate with its Wisconsin location.

"There was no indication that it would happen this quick or this sudden, but after the dust settles and you think about it, no I wasn't surprised," he said.

He spent Wednesday and Thursday making calls, looking for new clients to fill the void left by GLK. By Thursday evening, he said he should be able to make up for the loss.

In the meantime, others around Shortsville were grasping with the loss of jobs, and possibly what the town had been known to many for.

"The people who worked there were here every week," said Mallwitz. "I know they all didn't want to leave."

As for residents like Swarner, she says losing the odor often emitted by the plant isn't worth the hit to the local economy.

"It's a lot for around here. It's a small town and it's been there forever. We grew up with the smell," said Swarner.

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