FRONTENAC — For over 100 years, Pallucca’s has been known for their rigatoni and sausage, homemade meatballs, panini sandwiches and Italian-made goods.

During the 2019 Frontenac Homecoming, three tables were set up with a century’s-worth of photos and stories of Pallucca’s.

As history goes, Attilio Pallucca had immigrated to the United States from Italy. In 1909, he entered a partnership with Enrico Moriconi to start a grocery store on Cherokee Street in Frontenac. The store was known as the Italian- American Cooperative Store and mainly supplied to Italian-Americans who were the early settlers in Frontenac. The business was moved from Cherokee Street to East McKay Street in the 1930s and three years later, Attilio bought Moriconi’s share. The store eventually changed its name to Pallucca and Sons Supermarket.

When Attilio retired, he sold the store to Joe and Raymond Pallucca. Richard “Dick” or “Dickie” Pallucca’s — Joe Pallucca’s son — worked at the store in 1949 when he was 10 years old. He became the market’s meat cutter following his father’s death in 1959 and also became co-owner with Raymond. Following Raymond’s death in the 1990s, Dick became full owner.

In 2009, Dick remodeled the store, changing it from a full-service grocery store to a deli and catering service. It’s remained in the Pallucca family until Dick's death in 2013.

When asked how Pallucca’s kept going all these years in a 2012 Morning Sun article, Dick said that it was “determination and hard work.”

According to another Morning Sun article the store’s generosity culminated in a special relationship with its community, which some people would most likely say continues today through its current involvement with the Frontenac community.

“Attilio and Enrico had frequently extended credit when the miners were on strike or during the Depression when it was money they would not have for their own families,” the article read.

At that time, approximately 10 other grocery stores had come and gone.

“It was just good friendship and participation in the community,” Lew Moriconi said in the article. “They extended credit to the coal miners during some very bad days.”

Five years ago — with the Pallucca recipe book in hand — Ethan Edwards and his wife Alyssa took over the deli.

“When Dick was ill, then passed away, we started talking about what if we looked into buying the store … it just took off from there,” Ethan said.

Ethan — a native of Frontenac — started working at Pallucca’s before he could even drive. He would help with catering, stocking the store, cleaning and working the counter.

He reminisced about the “old timers” that would give him and the other youngsters working there a hard time, he said jokingly. They all — the staff and customers — would joke about old stories happening around town

“If you missed something you could get caught up on it pretty fast, because they were always there to gossip and see what’s going on,” Ethan said. “It was definitely a small town community you pretty much know everybody who came in.

“You knew when they walked in that they were going to get a pound of hamburger, a half pound of party ham and a half pound of garlic salami every time they came in.”

Although there are new owners, there’s no change to the recipes, Ethan said.

“We still make the sauce the same way, we still make the sausage the same way,” he said.

The office, too, remains the same aside from a few more piles of paper and pictures of his daughters.

Behind the scenes there have been a few changes in the kitchen, surely a relief to the staff, there is a dishwasher and a bit more room for cooking.

The most visible change, however, is the Pallucca’s Event Hall. The venue debuted at Frontenac Homecoming June 2017. What used to be a flea market and before that, a supermarket, is now an elegant event venue.

“Once we took it [business] over a couple years into it, it was my wife’s vision of getting this done,” he said with a wave around the Pallucca Event Hall.

The venue is used for family gatherings, wedding receptions and other events. The Edwards have also opened the hall up for special community events such as Third Thursdays with Medicalodges, fundraisers — such as the recent John Yoger Band’s Angels Among Us Benefit — and Frontenac Homecoming.

The Edwards try to give back as much as they can, by making the hall accessible, providing hot dogs for Homecoming, and their involvement in Festa Italiana and other community services.

“This store was built from a lot on support from the community and trust,” Ethan said, adding they want to continue that tradition.