It’s only been a few days since we first met Herb Ouzer, but it sure feels longer than that. We were just ecstatic when Herb’s son Marc reached out to us last week to let us know about his dad’s 100th birthday. As it turns out, Herb was a Store Manager for many years at the old Hart’s Food Stores in Rochester.
Herb’s very first job out of high school was delivering groceries for Hart’s, out of a Hart’s wagon. “It was a big deal,” Herb tells us. “And of course we delivered in the snow.”
Herb gradually worked himself up to being a clerk, making $9 a week.
Interestingly enough, nothing in the Hart’s stores at the time was prepackaged. “We weighed everything to order,” Herb tells us. “They told me to whistle while I was in the back room weighing things, so that I wouldn’t eat any of it!”
Herb later became the Store Manager for two Hart’s locations in the city.
When he was called to serve during World War II, Hart’s offered Herb a deferment, but he insisted that he would serve his country. “Everybody’s going. I’m going to go, too.”
He later purchased his own grocery store with his business partner, Morris Testa. Though it was called “Star Fruits & Vegetables,” it was entirely separate from the stores known later as Star Markets. (An interesting note: All Hart’s stores became Star Markets in the 1960s.) Herb’s Star store was on Culver and Parsells, near where the Golden Fox Restaurant is now.
One of his favorite parts of the grocery business? “Some people would come in with kids, so I always threw a little extra bubble gum in the bag.”
Herb turned 100 on Saturday, July 5.
We were just thrilled to welcome Herb and his son Marc to our store on Thursday, July 3. Herb got a sneak peek at construction progress, and a tasty sheet cake complete with a Hart’s wagon!
Many thanks to the Democrat and Chronicle for their fantastic coverage of this special day.
Local 100-year-old celebrates with Hart’s
by Karen Miltner
Weeks before Hart’s Local Grocers will host its own ribbon-cutting celebration, the much-anticipated East End supermarket cut the cake for a man who worked at the original Hart’s chain many decades ago.
A small group gathered inside 10 Winthrop St. on Thursday afternoon to wish Herb Ouzer a happy birthday. The resident at The Summit at Brighton turns 100 on Saturday. The store presented Ouzer with a gift certificate for $100, which he can use when the store opens later this summer.