Page 102 - December2018
P. 102

Left to right: Tom Vallante, Michael Muccio, Mark Zenga, Patrick Rennie, Robert Lee, Bob Somerville, Alexandra Strock, Renee McGrath, John Schleicher, Mj Lauria, Ralph DiGiacomo, Jen Carafa, Adam Strock, Bruce Strock, Peggy Twohig and Michael Strock
Merchants see this customer diversity re ected in product demand. “Our customers continue to demand the very best quality and freshest produce,” says Travers. “We also continue to have foodservice industry customers that prefer a value product. We o er opportunities week in and week out with quality, competitive pricing and outstanding service, keeping our customers loyal and always coming back for more.”
Boston, like many U.S. cities, continues to enjoy growth of the ethnic demographic.
“We continue to see a trend of ethnic diversity and increasing ethnic customers,”
Gene Fabio, president of J. Bonafede, attributes the continued wholesale market relevance to the diverse customer base. “We have a well-established, varied customer base,”
he says. “A lot of people are being fed through this market. We have higher foot tra c because there are a lot of smaller, especially ethnic, stores who shop here.”
Boston’s wholesale market traces its roots to colonial Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, now one of Boston’s most popular tourist attractions.
Thirty years before the Revolutionary War, Faneuil Hall was established to provide Boston area farmers a place to sell their fruits and vegetables. The Faneuil Hall market area, which included Quincy Market, served as a produce distribution center until 1968, when the New England Produce Center (NEPC) was built in Chelsea, MA.
In 1966, the mayor of Boston decided to redevelop the Faneuil Hall area, including the surrounding buildings, explains John Bonafede, chairman of J. Bonafede & Sons. “The city required businesses to sell their property to the city and look for new space, pretty much forcing the merchants to come up with the concept of building a new market,” he says.
The Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market merchants joined forces with other compa- nies who at that time were operating in a South Boston market area. “The receivers who sold rail car were in South Boston,” says Bonafede. “The downtown market was more for truck or boat receivers. The downtown merchants joined with some of the South Boston companies to develop a ‘new’ facility that would become known as the New England Produce Center. The facility was completed in February 1968 and was the most modern facility at the time.”
When the NEPC opened in 1968, there were about 50 companies who moved to it from the old markets and around the area. The “new” market soon became a desti-
nation. “The merchants who did not come to the new location were soon suffering in business because the new location provided a one-stop-shop for the buyers,” says Bonafede.
The new market provided the owner-com- panies with an opportunity to offer some- thing more to their customers. “When the wholesalers knew they had to leave the downtown area, they formed a group, bought the land and  gured out what they wanted in the new market,” says Dominic (Skip) J. Cavallaro Jr., president of J. Cerasulo. “They used it as an opportunity to modernize and build better facilities for their business.”
Several of the companies still operating on today’s market date their roots back to the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market era. Of the 27 companies on the market now, Bonafede estimates 21 were part of the original group in 1968.
Steven Piazza, president and treasurer at Community-Suffolk reports his grandfather started the business around 1930 in the
basement of one of the colonial buildings. “When he  rst started, he was the  rst to wash and wrap fresh celery,” he says. “Over the years, as his brothers came into it and the family grew, the commodities handled grew as well.”
Eaton & Eustis Co. was also on the Quincy Market. “The company was established in 1880 and my grandfather and his brother bought it in 1910,” says Anthony Sharrino, president. “In those days, they received a lot from Cuba and Puerto Rico including citrus fruit and pineapple. The business operated there until 1968 when we moved to the NEPC.”
The New England Produce Center now supplies wholesalers, retailers and food service customers serving more than eight million people located in an area bounded by Connecticut in the South, to the Canadian border in the North and all the Maritime Prov- inces of Canada in the East, and to Albany, NY, in the West. It is the largest privately owned terminal market in the country. pb

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