Peter Todaro conducts the day-to-day operations of Todaro Bros., a staple Italian specialty market in Kips Bay at 555 Second Ave. The business has been serving the area since 1917 and Todaro is a third-generation owner. His grandfather, Pellegrino and his brother originally started the business before passing it down to Peter’s father, Luciano.
Peter, who was born and raised in Kips Bay, decided to enter the family business after moving back to the area seven years ago. The store specializes in selling imported cheeses, meat, Italian specialties and caviar, among other products. Their core business comes from the residents of Kips Bay, particularly in the Kips Bay Towers, and the NYU Langone Medical Center, where he was born.
What’s kept Todaro Bros. in business for so long?
We’re very much a neighborhood store. We know our customers on a first-name basis and we have employees who’ve been here for 10-35 years. The one thing we try to provide is that neighborhood-feel. My customers know me by my first name and I see my employees remembering what a customer bought two days ago. The long-term relationships we’ve developed is the reason why we’re still here and why people are happy to come here.
What’s most popular here?
We have our own line of dressings, sauces and jams, which are prepared in the kitchen. Four months ago we carved out a little section in the store to showcase some of the unique items. The enoteca has its own separate menu and shows customers how a pesto or a jam could be used and paired with food and wine. For example, customers were asking about the balsamic sweet onion jam or often ask why we decided to combine certain ingredients, so we’re showing them how they could be combined. One specialty item that’s popular is our 100% olive oil.
What’s a perk of owning a biz in Kips Bay?
Todaro Bros. has evolved with Kips Bay. I can’t see us not being in Kips Bay. We’re attached to this neighborhood. For me it has all the amenities I need. It’s relatively safe and quiet and the proximity to public transportation makes it easy for me to get around the city. It’s a neighborhood people don’t really think of when they think of the east side. But it’s close to the East River so you can find a place to go running, it’s close to the Midtown Tunnel to get to Queens, the ferry to get to Long Island City, to Midtown and downtown and just across from Penn Station. And it still has a little bit of that neighborhood-feel.