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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Pallucca's is celebrating 100 years

  • Probably somewhere, in the depths of the Amazon jungle or among the teeming billions in China, there are people who have never heard of Pallucca’s Market in Frontenac.



    The rest of the world has learned, over the past century, about Pallucca’s Italian sausage, rigatoni dinners, etc.

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  • Probably somewhere, in the depths of the Amazon jungle or among the teeming billions in China, there are people who have never heard of Pallucca’s Market in Frontenac.
    The rest of the world has learned, over the past century, about Pallucca’s Italian sausage, rigatoni dinners, etc.
    When so many businesses fail after a few years, how has Pallucca’s kept going for a century?
    “Determination and hard work,” said Richard “Dick” Pallucca, current owner/operator. “It took plenty of that.”
    He’s the third generation of his family to work in the market, which was started by his grandfather, Attilio Pallucca, who immigrated to the United States from Italy.
    His grandfather and partner Enrico Moriconi opened the Italian-American Cooperative Store in 1909 on Cherokee Street in Frontenac. In 1930 the store moved to East McKay, and three years after that Attilio bought out Moriconi’s share. When he retired, he sold the store to Dick Pallucca’s father, Joe Pallucca, and his uncle, Raymond Pallucca.
    Pallucca said he started working in the store in 1949 when he was 10, starting as a “runner.” He explained that the market originally was not self-service.
    “The customers would stand at the counter and tell you what they wanted, and you ran and got it for them,” he said. “I’d wear out a pair of shoes in six months. Then we became a supermarket.”
    Pallucca later did other work around the place and, following his father’s death in 1959, became the market’s meat cutter. He was co-owner with Raymond Pallucca until his uncle’s death in the 1990s, then became full owner.
    While the Italian-American Cooperative Store eventually changed its name to Pallucca & Sons Supermarket, the store continued to feature imported Italian olive oil, pastas, olives, salami and other items along with standard American brands.
    In January 2009, Pallucca decided to drastically downsize the grocery portion of the market.
    “Now we’re a deli,” he said. “I just couldn’t handle it all anymore. I’ve been hauling 370-pound chunks of meat all my life and my back is shot. It’s a wonder I walk as well as I do.”
    On a recent day, Pallucca was sitting on a stool assembling panini sandwiches with mortadella ham, Italian salami, provel cheese, olives and jalapenos.
    “We call them hot paninis,” Pallucca said. “We serve lunch every day and we do a lot of catering.”
    Popular items are traditional favorites such as rigatoni dinners and Pallucca’s own special Italian sausage.
    “My father made sausage a certain way and I didn’t really like it that much,” he said.
    Then he and great-uncle Esparto Mannoni began experimenting with sausage, and one of their attempts was just perfect.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’ve been making sausage that way ever since,” Pallucca said. “We do all real Italian. We had to do that because we don’t know how to do anything else.”
    There are exceptions, of course. Pallucca’s is known to turn out a darned good version of all-American chili.
    Pallucca isn’t sure if a fourth generation will run the store. He had his own children, sons Bill and Joe and daughter Becky, work in the market when they reached 12, but he doesn’t believe they’d want to take over the business.
    “My daughter, Becky, who’s a police officer in Pittsburg, does help out now and then,” he said.
    For now, Pallucca said, he’ll keep going as long as he can.
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