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Growing Up in the Butcher Shop: “Customer Service”

 

Ciao Amici,

     To prepare me for the day that I would start my business, my parents and grandparents shared many stories with me as I was growing up in the Butcher Shop.  Grandmom told me when they first came to Roseto to start their business, they had to make a decision as to whether they should buy equipment for the butcher shop or furniture. They lived out of crates for dressers and used whatever they could to sleep on. In order to acquire modern equipment, they had to take out a loan. At the time, Roseto had a bank and the person in charge for giving loans was Mr. DeCesare. He saw the passion in my grandparents and gave them a 25-hundred-dollar loan in 1926. My grandparents said he was criticized for this but he responded by saying they are hardworking and smart and they will succeed.

      I can remember hearing Grandmom say, “Josie, there we were we purchased the equipment and on the first day all we sold was 5 cents worth of peanuts. That night Grand pop & I laid in bed worrying about how we are going to pay back the loan.”  But as word spread and the town’s people could smell the aroma of roasted coffee or roasted peanuts the customers would stop in to buy the coffee and also see the quality of veal, lamb and other items they had. Through word of mouth their business grew. Relentless and tireless they worked long hours and paid their loan off in one year. I guess Mr.DeCesare could have said, well, I told you so. During that time there was prejudice against immigrants, but my grandparents and parents instilled in me that all men are equal regardless of race, religion, handicapped or whatever. All customers were treated equally. I witnessed myself when I saw them serve their customers.

       A lady came into the shop wearing a mink stole, diamonds and purchased groceries and then asked to be put in the book for credit. Then another customer came into the shop looking like Jed Clampett (from the Beverly Hillbillies) and gave them a 150 dollar meat order and pulled out a wad of money to pay them and even gave them a tip. It is true that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Grandmom gave me another story of a customer that came into the shop and started to yell at her. Grand pop, who was cooking in the kitchen came out and asked what was wrong. The customer sarcastically said, “You sold me soup bones and we made soup the first time and it was good but when we cooked the bones the second time it came out with less flavor.” My grandfather could not believe what he had heard, someone actually expected to use bones twice for soup. “How much did my wife charge you for them, he asked?” The customer said 10 cents. My grandfather opened the cash register and gave the customer his ten cents back. There were other shops in the area that purchased my grandparent’s ring bologna. They sold it as their bologna and Grandpop was fine with that.  On one occasion a particular store had sold out and the store owner said to go to DeFranco’s they make good ring bologna. When the customer came into the shop, he told my grandparents he usually gets his ring bologna at the other store and his is better. Grandpop told him to keep on buying it there (knowing he sold it to that other store). Always using quality steers, my Grandfather had made roast beef for an organization and someone there told him, “Hey Phil, this meat is too tender, I like the kind of meat that you have to chew for five minutes so it feels like you’re eating more. . It’s unbelievable! Tough brisket beats tenderloin?  Oh well.  

      A local organization said to me, “Joe, no matter how good your food is and no matter how inexpensive you are, people are not going to use you because of where you come from.”  I am glad and proud of where I come from.  Know that prejudice is alive and well and right down the street from where you live.  People tell me I am lucky to have this business. I respond to them with what my Grandmother would say:

 

 “Il più duro mi lavoro Il più fortunato ottiene “ /

The harder I work the luckier I  get.

 

Best Regards / Con cordiali saluti

Joe


J. DeFranco and Daughters Catering & Deli
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