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About UsToday, real Italian food stores are nearly a thing of the past but the demand for genuine Italian food specialties continues to grow. From its 1910 sandstone storefront in Krebs, Oklahoma, Lovera's has it all; right here and on-line.
It was 1945 and the war was ending, Mike Lovera had big plans. He'd go home and spend some time in Krebs, with his mother, Marta and sister, Mary, before returning to Detroit, where he'd been before the war. When Mike arrived in Krebs, OK, his Mamma told him that there was no way he was going back to Detroit. Mike's place was right there in Krebs where he would learn all about the family grocery and butchering business. Mike, mindful that his mother was usually right, did exactly that. Additionally, Mike's mamma had something else for him: His own father's recipe for "real northern Italian sausage," a recipe carried over from San Lorenzo and relished by all the Lovera's when they killed a hog. "People like my Italian sausages," she said and Mike had to agree. Mike settled into Krebs and, somewhat reluctantly, took over the grocery and butcher shop.
In the early days Mike would sit outside the store and watch the streetcar go by. He'd often dream of going to Detroit or Chicago but Mamma always brought him back to reality: "Make sausage," she'd say. Mike made sausage! Gradually, people came from all around to buy it. He soon added homemade raw Caciocavallo (now called Caciocavera) style cheese brought in by the local Italian women; he began to carry homemade brick oven bread, hard crusted and baked just like in Italy. He added tomato paste and pasta. At Christmas, he sold torrone and panettone; olive oil and salami. As the business grew, he added chicken feed, bags of flour, bins of apples and oranges. And, finally, milk and ice cream. Eggs were brought in from the local farmers and sold by the piece, carefully placed in brown paper bags. And, he learned to butcher. Eventually, Mike's Grocery became known for miles around for the high quality of its steak and other meats, all hand cut.
The store became a local gathering place. ”The local Italian men would sit around the coal stove in winter and talk about Italy. They'd tell Mike about some of the foods they missed and he would get it for them. Mike was one of the first to offer credit, and most of the Italian restaurants in Krebs owe some of their success to Mike's generous credit terms to their struggling start up businesses. As an inducement for more customers, he started taking phone orders and making local deliveries. He hired a helper and brought in his sister Mary to help too.
In 1952, on a blind date, Mike met Madeline and in late 1952, she became his wife. She joined Mike and his family in the store and never looked back. It wasn't long before Mike and Madeline had children and once they were old enough to stock shelves and work in the store, they did just that. Mike Lovera always told his children, say hi and thank you to anybody that comes into the store, whether they buy a pack of gum or fifty pounds of sausage.
Mike Lovera died in 1987 and his sons Mike, Jr. and Sam took over. They expanded the store and made modern changes. When Mike Jr moved away in 1996, Sam Lovera took the reins. He continued to expand the store, brought in more Italian imports, built a sausage plant and began his own cheese production.
Today, Lovera's ships far and wide. With a newly remodeled store and more and more products from all over Italy, Lovera's is still the old time atmosphere of a friendly place where friends meet that Mike first envisioned back in 1945. Sam, like his father, Mike, and his Grandma Lovera is always thinking ahead, seeking out the best of Italy and the New World to offer to his friends and customers.