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South Buffalo's secret sauce keeps customers coming back

Nestled along Abbott Road at the South Buffalo-Lackawanna border, you'll find some of the best Texas hots in the area.

John Kesidis has been making them for 42 years. After working for other restaurants, he opened Abbott Texas Hots Restaurant, at 1291 Abbott Road, 26 years ago. He and his wife, Anna, greet customers who flock to the small, comfortable restaurant with a traditional lunch counter.

Kesidis does all of the cooking behind that counter while Anna helps prepare food and waits tables. As you watch, it's obvious they have the system down pat even at peak times when things get hectic.

Kesidis says it's the sauce smothered on homemade food that keeps customers coming back thanks to a recipe his uncle obtained in South Buffalo decades ago.

Question: Customers come in here for your Texas red hot sauce. What's the story behind the recipe?

Kesidis: The recipe goes back to the early 1950s when it was handed down. My uncle bought the recipe from somebody else down the street who used to be on Abbott Road near Mercy Hospital. It used to be Jimmy's. Jimmy was the original owner and Gus bought him out. Gus was my uncle. Then Mercy bought my uncle out (for an expansion project, then he opened at 1291 Abbott Road.)

Q: So people come in for this specific recipe?

A: Yeah, they like the food. We get people visiting from out of town to see relatives who live in South Buffalo. They come straight from the airport and they come right here.

Q: What are your most popular menu items?

A: Texas red hots and breakfast. We do a lot of breakfast food with the hot dog sauce on top, all over everything and the home fries.

Besides Texas hots, comfort food like meatloaf is popular along with regular specials. (Elizabeth Carey/Special to The News)

Q: I also see meatloaf and more. How does your menu stand out?

A: Everything is homemade. We do fish fries. All of the salads are homemade the same day. We have some specials - goulash on Tuesday, spaghetti and meatballs on Thursday. Roast beef we do every day. We are open every day, seven days a week 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. And Sundays 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Q: You cook all of the food behind the counter. Do you have a special technique?

A: It's gotta be clean - that's the main thing. After church, people come in and it gets hectic with a grill like that and one person. During football season, you get church people and people going to the game, then people calling on the phone for takeouts. It gets crazy!

Salads at Abbott Texas Hots Restaurant, like the chicken souvlaki, are made fresh to order. (Elizabeth Carey/Special to The News.)

Q: Have you seen a lot of things change over the years?

A: There's a lot of competition.

Q: So what keeps customers coming back?

A: The best Texas red hots - that's what they tell me. I don't sell the sauce by the pint or the quart.

Q: So they have to eat it here or get takeout! What have you learned over the years?

A: It's a lot of work, seven days a week. You have to be here. Otherwise, it's not going to work.

Anna and John Kedisis run Abbott Texas Hots Restaurant, which has a loyal following with local residents and visitors. (Elizabeth Carey/Special to The News.)

Q: What's your favorite thing on the menu?

A: I like breakfast. And a hot dog.

Q: Do you have any regrets?

A: No. We have four daughters aged 5 to 19 so retirement isn't in the near future.

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