Twin brothers Michael and Robert Smolka grew up under the watchful eye of their father in the St. Lawrence market, where the elder Smolka operated Nick’s Meats. Smolka, who was trained and apprenticed in Germany, began the boys’ education when they were just 14. For seven years, they continued not only honing their meat cutting skills, but also developed a strong work ethic.
At the tender age of 21, Mike and Rob, eager and restless to do their own thing, invested a small inheritance from their grandmother. in Spring of 1986, the boys opened Dietrich’s Butcher Shoppe and
Delicatessen on George Street in Downtown Oakville.
Although business was steady, the brothers soon learned that being the boss wasn’t as easy as their dad made it look. Long hours, hefty decisions and interminable downtown construction took their toll.
Just when things were looking particularly gloomy, Rob found a small deli for sale in Glen Abbey.
Dietrich’s Butcher Shoppe and Delicatessen moved to Nottinghill Gate in 1989, just as the new subdivision was coming into its own. Success came quickly under the watchful eye of a canny Grandma and the shop’s matriarch. “We wouldn’t have made it without Dora,” says Mike. “She kept us focused.”
Rob, ever the entrepreneur, soon found another place for sale, a struggling fruit market on Lakeshore Road just across from the Oakville/Burlington border. Expansion was the way to go, two stores are better than one.. or so they thought. The store closed after a scant two years.
Mike went back to work for his dad, and Rob stayed in Glen Abbey until his decision to get out of the business. Mike, with Dora’s steady hand, went it alone.
After a name change, an expansion to meet the threat of a new competitor and a larger variety of specialty meats Dietrich’s finally found its niche in the marketplace.
In 1999, Mike’s dad, after a brief retirement, joined his son at the warehouse. In 2001, Dora finally retired at the ripe age of 75, taking her watchful eye, but leaving her watchful spirit.
A year later, Dietrich’s expanded again to a 3,600 sq. ft. meat warehouse, now offering a huge variety of specialty meats BBQ, and fresh top quality meats for the holidays. Dietrich’s began establishing a reputation for being Oakville’s most trusted name for quality meats.
It’s been almost thirty years, and Dietrich’s is stronger than ever. Demand for kebobs, steaks, burgers and all of those specialty items remains higher than ever.
“To my family, and my great customers, I want to thank you for this wonderful adventure,” says Mike, who is still incredulous about his success.