A look at how Fraboni’s has changed the food landscape on the Range
Fraboni’s in Hibbing has been helping feed people across the Range for decades.
Leo and Irene Fraboni started operating it in 1968. And before then, his parents ran it as grocery store.
Mark and Wayne Thune started working there when they were kids, and their family needed the money.
“We grew up on welfare,” Mark explained. “Our mom raised us seven kids.”
Wayne added, “Whenever I wasn’t in school, it seemed like I was working at Fraboni’s.”
Back then, the company was focused on sausage making.
The Frabonis treated the Thunes like family.
Mark said, “In our younger days, to tie us in, Leo gave us part of the business. He knew we could make more in the mines. So he gave us part of the business. And we ended up buying out the rest.”
They expanded to include 6000 products in the food distribution side.
But they still grow fennel to use in the porketta.
Wayne was always on the road. “That’s the rewarding thing about it. I got to know some good people within a 100 mile radius of Hibbing. It’s been more fun than work.”
Now, in 2023, they have sold the business and are ready to retire.
“It’s time for the next generation to take over,” Wayne said.
New co-owner Chris Bergum is trying to absorb nearly 100 years worth of knowledge.
“The guys are being very helpful through this transition,” he said.
Bergum is all about local business. “It’s important to keep business the way it is. Maybe we will have some expansion in the future. But we do like the local tie, and having control over the manufacturing.”
He’s a big breakfast guy, so he’s excited about the new blueberry maple wild rice breakfast sausage.
A loan from Iron Range Resources helped Bergum and fellow co-owner Chad Mouton purchase the business.