by Darcy Higgins
It wasn’t so quiet when I arrived at Pusateri Fruit Market (not the Yorkville area shops with the similar name) to chat with Tony Cerminara. He was busy with customers, swapping tomato sauce recipes. His business partner, Frank Mangione, keeps busy too, early every morning to rise (seven days a week) and heads to the Ontario Food Terminalto hand select “only the best” product.
Local and fresh produce is popular these days, if not always easily available, but Tony tells me it’s what they’ve built their business on. Pusateri opened in 1966 at Church and Wellesley and has been an important fixture with its neighbours ever since. You get the sense in talking to these guys that their pride in the store and the quality of the goods they sell is something similar to what it was under its first owners, decades ago. They even have loyal customers who have kept coming since those early days.
How does a shop keep its values but stay relevant in the community?
Tony told me they keep the staples, but offer new and interesting items, often based on the desires of shoppers.
“There’s never a request we turn down,” Tony said. “We try to find something for the customer as hard as we can. Customer service has kept us going for 46 years.”
Some of those new items offer support to area food processors. Very new food on the shelves include Toronto’s famed Greg’s Ice Cream, Yogalicious’ local and sustainable iced kefir, the “horizontally traded” ChocoSol chocolate, and other finds from the Ontario Natural Food Co-op. The long-time Cookstown Greens, well known as a pioneer in Ontario organic agriculture can also be found in-store.
When founder, Joe Pusateri, retired in 2007, he told Tony that Loblaw’s was itching to move into the neighbourhood.