By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer
VERONA — The Oneida Indian Nation is branching out into the hot dog business.
The tribe is lead investor in the acquisition ofHofmann Sausage Company, the well-known Syracuse maker of hot dogs, sausages and other meat products, by Dallas-based Zaccanelli Food Group. Financial terms of the "multimillion deal," were not disclosed at this morning’s news conference at Shenandoah Golf Club at the Oneidas’ sprawling Turning Stone Resort and Casino.
A family-run business founded by Frank W. Hofmann in 1879, Hofmann has become a household brand throughout Central New York and selected markets down the east coast.
"Joining in this acquisition demonstrates the Oneida Indian Nation’s commitment to diversifying our enterprises and re-investing in Central New York," said Oneida CEO Ray Halbritter. "Hofmann is an iconic brand in this region. The Oneida Nation is proud to be part of the group that takes it to the next level."
Halbritter will serve on the company’s new board of directors.
Turning Stone Resort will also serve as the world marketing center for all Hofmann activities,, according to Frank Zaccanelli, a Syracuse native who is now the company’s chairman and CEO.
"We plan to transition Hofmann from a regional icon to a national and international brand, while maintaining the Hofmann family tradition of quality and exceptional customer service," he said "For Central New York customers, the only thing that will change is that no matter where they go, they’ll be able to enjoy the ‘World’s Greatest Hot Dog’ and be proud it all started in their home area."
Zaccanelli has served as president, general manager and minority owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks.
"I brought this investment opportunity to my friends at the Oneida Indian Nation because of their entrepreneurial spirit and successful history of creating jobs and helping grow the region’s economy," said Zaccanelli.
Other major investors include; Syracuse University Head Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim; Phil Romano, founder of several restaurant groups, including Fuddruckers, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and eatZi’s Market & Bakery; former Syracuse Police Chief and two-time Syracuse University All-America basketball player Dennis DuVal; and famed Dallas Cowboys quarterback and successful businessman Roger Staubach.
"As a native Central New Yorker who grew up eating Hofmann hot dogs, I am excited to be a part of this fantastic opportunity with Frank and his team and look forward to developing a quick service restaurant chain," said Romano, who grew up Auburn. He also is a Hoffman board member.
The first restaurants will open in Dallas and then expand across the country. Hofmann has operated restaurants in the Syracuse area. Turning Stone opened in 1993 and has evolved into one of the top five tourist attractions in New York state, hosting more than four million guests a year.
The nation employs more than 4,500 people across its enterprises in Oneida and Madison counties. Most are part of the sprawling casino operation. The tribe says it paid $127 million in salaries and wages in 2011.