By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — The family that has operated Mortimer's Restaurant Supplies for more than 80 years will soon be moving on.
Bud Beiter, who has spent his days in the store full of stir sticks, tongs and ice scoopers since buying the company from his in-laws in 1975, said he is ready to go on to the next chapter of his life, though he would not elaborate on his plans.
"What I do from here on in is probably not going to be as rewarding as these years at Moritmer's," Beiter said, staring off at the glassware lined up along the wall.
The business, started in 1929 by Emily Mortimer and her children Wright and Violet, has serviced Falls institutions of all stripes throughout the years. The owners of DiCamillo's Bakery, the Como, and Gadawski's all have stopped in to pick up paper products or glasses.
But now Beiter said he is ready to sell his business or, if no one bids on the business itself, sell off the inventory and put the building on the market.
Beiter's wife Rae Page-Beiter, and her cousin Jean Mortimer-Braun — the children of Violet and Wright respectively — are both sad the family will be moving on from the business that has been a part of their lives since before they were born.
Standing in the store full of themed place mats and bar mixers they both recounted the countless hours that they spent working and playing in the 11th Street shop.
"I practically lived at this store for three years," Mortimer-Btraun said.
While the parents managed the store, the girls and other children would play. Some were family, some neighborhood friends, Page-Beiter said.
"I used to come with my girlfriends and we would play waitress and store," she said.
And when they got older they, too, helped to run the store.
Page-Beiter and Mortimer Braun both grew up in the Falls but have lived in suburbs for a number of years.
Still, the memories of the city and the store have kept them coming back to visit, Mortimer-Braun said.
"I've got a real soft spot in my heart for Niagara Falls," Mortimer-Braun said.
While the cousins are sorry to see the family business go they respect Beiter's decision.
"He's ready," Page-Beiter said of her husband Bud.
Beiter had never planned on getting into the family business. He was working a good job in the data processing industry before buying the store.
"It was a really nice job and very rewarding for me," he said.
When Emily and her children wanted to retire — the matriarch was in her 80s by that time — they tried to convince Beiter to buy the store.
He decided to give it a shot.
"I found that working for yourself, it's a lot more work, but way more rewarding," he said.
Even after Beiter bought the store, it took some convincing to get Emily to fully hand over the reigns.
"We had to get a pry bar to get her out of here," Beiter joked.
Over the years, Beiter came to love the little store that sits behind Harry F. Abate Elementary School. Beiter has many fond memories of being with his grandchildren as they ran around the store warehouse getting dirty while playing games.
"Everybody is going to miss this place," he said. "But our grand kids are going to miss it the most."
And in seeing the same faces for years coming in to pick up supplies, Beiter was not just doing business, he was creating relationships. He has been in the Falls long enough to see many of the businesses that buy from him handed down from one generation to the next.
"What's kind of sad is I knew all of the dads," Beiter said of some of the restaurants that have been in the Falls for decades.
And now he has to say goodbye to their kids.
Beiter has told some of his customers of his plans, but many don't know that they won't be seeing him standing behind the counter next to the manual cash register for much longer, he said.
"It's over for me," Beiter said.
Michael DiCamillo, the vice president of marketing for DiCamillo Bakery and a member of the family that has owned the iconic business since it opened in 1920, said he can remember going into Mortimer's as a kid.
"I love that store," DiCamillo said.
DiCamillo said Beiter and Mortimer's have become almost a fact of life for Niagara Falls food service industry. If you cook, bake or sling cocktails you've been to the store.
"I personally hate to see Bud gone," DiCamillo said. "He was an institution.
"I wish him the best. We're going to miss him in this community."
Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257