Brooklyn tombstone store lightens up with fresh bread
Jerry Ragusa owns Grande Monuments, which now sells fresh bread, in Williamsburg. (Diedre Schoo)
BY DANIELLE SONNENBERG
Special to amNewYork
The mood is a little lighter at Jerry Ragusas tombstone store in Brooklyn; maybe its because of the fresh bread he now sells alongside the deathly monuments.
The bread brings a light air to an otherwise solemn business, said Ragusa, 48, the owner of Grande Monuments at 382 Graham Ave. in Williamsburg.
The tombstone store has been in the family since 1958, and selling bread was a way for him to bring his daughter into the fold.Angela Ragusa, 18, works at Il Fornaretto, a bakery in Bensonhurst.
She noticed that many bread shops in Williamsburg were closing, and she approached her boss about selling out of her familys grave-marker store.
The pairing of bread and tombstones, which began in February, appears to be working out. More than 500 loaves are sold a week, and they cost $2 each, Jerry Ragusa said.
It started with a little sign in the window and then it just spread like wildfire, said customer Jimmy Salatino.
Ragusa said he didnt start selling bread to make money or attract attention.
Part of the motivation was to get closer with my daughter. Shes my baby girl, the only gift you get from God, he said. His daughter still a teenager used to just come home, go to her room and shut her door, he said.
The bread has changed that.
We created something interesting together and a bond developed, Ragusa said. He meets his daughter at 9 a.m. daily to receive the paninis, and Tuscano, French and Sicilian loaves.
He hopes shell take over the store one day, and shes open to the idea.
I definitely want to carry on the business and maybe open up bakeries, too. You never know what can happen, Angela Ragusa said.