Man known for Sati Babi dies


Terre Haute Tribune-Star


Sati Babi has been a Wabash Valley meat-on-a-stick tradition for more than 42 years, served at a wide variety of locations, including the annual Seymour Oktoberfest.

Antonio “Tony” Miranda, the Philippines native who founded the business and kept it alive after moving to Terre Haute with his wife, Fe, in 1968, died Feb. 28 after a 10-year-plus battle with kidney failure. He was 79.

His youngest son, 42-year-old Martin Miranda of Terre Haute, recently shared a few memories of the family patriarch.

Martin said his father earned a bachelor’s degree and “almost a master’s” in business from Indiana State University.

“On his thesis statement, he said the Midwest at that time was such a conservative place that if you started your business there and you broke even, you’d be successful,” Martin Miranda said.

Antonio, “Papa” as the ever-expanding Miranda family called him, did more than break even.

“When Papa perfected the sauce and started making the product … he changed the name a little bit to make it unique and coined the words ‘Sati Babi,’” Martin explained, adding that the phrase was a variation of the Filipino words for marinated pork. “He wanted to make sure his customers asked for it by name.”

They did. Sati Babi Inc. is now a registered trademark.

“He was friends with everybody,” said longtime friend and Terre Haute physician Primo Andres, who specializes in cardiology. “Everybody knows him for Sati Babi.”

The elder Miranda opened his first Sati Babi restaurant at 2150 Wabash Ave. — located between Monterey and North 22nd streets — in 1973. By the end of the decade, it had moved west to 1110 Wabash Ave.

“All the Miranda kids were pressed into service,” recalled Martin Miranda, the only one of Antonio and Fe’s three children born in Terre Haute. “Me, my brother (Victor) and my sister (Leonora), we all had to work in the family business. … Family was always most important to my dad. He very much intended for Sati Babi to be a family business.”

In the 1980s, Sati Babi morphed into a concessionaire business — specializing in savory shish kabobs, egg rolls and lemon shake-ups — that set up a stand at all of the popular Wabash Valley festivals and fairs during the summer and fall.

“Growing up, I remember when we would go to a new festival,” Martin said. “Dad would give me a little piece of Sati Babi and have me interact with potential customers. ‘Go to those people and offer them a sample.’ … I was probably 5 or 6. He had me working the counter at that age. I look back on that now, and those are some of my fondest memories. That gave us a good work ethic.”

Martin Miranda, who remains heavily involved with the family business, plans for its tradition to continue beyond his father’s passing.

“Papa’s been helping run it all this time, even though he’s been on dialysis for the last 10 years,” the youngest son noted. “It was very difficult, but Papa changed and adapted.”

As the business carries on, the legacy of its founder will not be forgotten.

“My dad really taught me how to enjoy,” Martin emphasized. “He taught me how to work hard … but he really taught me how to enjoy.

“When my dad danced, he danced with passion. When he listened to music, he listened with passion. When he made Sati Babis, he made them with passion. Anything he loved, he did it with passion.”

Andres remembers Antonio Miranda frequently preparing and bringing his specialty foods to Terre Haute Filipino gatherings, even when it was not expected of him. They’ve been friends since the early 1980s.

“It was like he was part of our extended family,” said Andres, who served as Antonio’s heart doctor. “Our son grew up with their children. … We’re a close-knit Filipino clan, although we are not all blood-related.”

Andres said Antonio would appreciate his mourners donating to “Gawad Kalinga c/o Dr. Primo Andres.” Gawad Kalinga is a national care-giving movement in the Philippines.

Another friend who has known Antonio Miranda since the early 1980s is longtime Honey Creek Middle School math teacher Bob Fischer, who also has sold food from concession stands at Wabash Valley festivals and fairs for several decades.

“He was a good businessman, but he was also fair to everyone and very helpful,” Fischer said. “He provided quality products, and he was a wonderful person just to be around. I had the pleasure of teaching his son (Victor), and right now, I have his granddaughter (Trinity) in class. So we have stayed in touch.”

Fischer said they weren’t really competitors at the festivals and fairs because they sold different products. Fischer sold sandwiches, corn dogs, lemonades, shake-ups and soft drinks.

“His kids, they all learned how to work,” he concluded. “He raised them well. They’re all great adults now.”

Martin Miranda made sure to credit Antonio’s sister, Anita Manzanares-Westerfield, and longtime friends, the late Dr. Manuel Cacdac, Dick and Ann Burchell and Bill and Sedonya Osmon, with offering support to the family business through its ups and downs.

“I’m very proud of what my father has done,” Martin said.

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