Crossing Brady Street- The Grand Reopening of the Italian Grocery Store Glorioso’s

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Eddie Glorioso, one of the three brothers who founded the Milwaukee Italian grocery store Glorioso’s in 1946, wipes tears from his eyes as he recalls when the family business opened in a new location  across from the original building.

“What happened is when we closed the store on Monday I cried,” Glorioso said. “I was there for 64 and a half years, and it was a delight to see what my nephews have accomplished for their uncle’s and father. It’s unbelievable.”

With the opening of a new store comes a change in ownership. Eddie, Joe, and Teddy Glorioso, who are all in their 80’s are passing on managing duties to Michael and Felix Glorioso, the sons of Teddy and his wife, Rosemary.

The new Glorioso’s opened on Dec. 2, and hundreds of people crowded the store as Mayor Tom Barrett cut the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony. Even with the larger size of the building, which is three and a half times larger than the old store, it was difficult to maneuver around the place because so many people showed up.

In spite of a troubling economy, Glorioso’s business continues to thrive. What once was a small Italian grocery store back in the 1940’s is now the largest Italian Supermarket in Wisconsin. The secret to Glorioso’s success is that they have their own identity and don’t try to compete with larger grocery stores like Whole Foods and Pick’n Save according to M. Glorioso.“The reason we’re still here after 65 years is because we continue to reinvent ourselves,” M. Glorioso said. “Staying true to our Italian heritage, and keeping us an ethnical store will keep us around for a long, long time.”

Glorioso’s New Features

The new Glorioso’s features a host of improvements that wouldn’t be possible without the expanded space.

  • Indoor cafe- With Alterra coffee/ espresso bar, and fresh gelato served daily.
  • Trio’s Pizza- A thin crust pizza and old family recipe that hasn’t been served in 30 years, and it was the first delivery pizza in Milwaukee.
  • More fresh deli foods, with new breakfast menu and desert menu.
  • Expanded bakery and wine/ beer section.

The new store is like “Glorioso’s on steroids,” M. Glorioso said. “There are a lot of differences, but the one thing that hasn’t changed, and what we’re striving to keep is our charm our ambiance, and our family feel. All the family members are here working hard together to ensure our customers stay number one, and that we don’t sacrifice any of our quality.”

Changes For The New Store

Glorioso’s moved into the new location to accommodate more space for its Italian goods and to offer more of its fresh produced Glorioso’s foods to their customers. The expansion needed to happen to ensure the survival of the family business M. Glorioso said.Tim Sampson a kitchen employee for two years at Glorioso’s says the transition from the old store to the new store has been smooth. “It’s been overwhelming with all the support from our customers,” said Sampson. “They’ve really been showing up in droves.”

Glorioso’s is synonymous with Brady Street, so it’s fitting that the new store is close to the original location. The inside of the store contains pictures of the Glorioso family, the original Glorioso’s sign, and pieces of Brady Street history cover the walls.

The architectural design is reminiscent of the old world. Elements from the Italian Third Ward and the old 1901 Harp Lamps up in the balcony adorn the building. For the food portion, the store is overflowing with pasta, wines, and the largest selection of Italian cheeses in the state.

Some customers are unhappy with the changes made to the store because they feel the place lost some of its charm and feel that Glorioso’s is just like every other grocery store in Milwaukee. Jaclyn Habck a customer of Glorioso’s for eight years disagrees.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Habck said. “I think the space, like when you walk in will actually make me come more because there’s a lot more products.  The space in here is just more homey where you can sit instead of having to take it and go.”

The Glorioso family business dates back to 1946. E. Glorioso said that he and his two brothers did everything themselves and worked 12 to 17 hours a day with just one helper. In 1968, the business expanded, and they hired more people to help out with the store.The new building used to house the old Astor Theater back in 1915. In May 2009, the theater closed and became the Brady Street Pharmacy. The business didn’t last long, and once the space opened up, the Glorioso family began renovating the place.

The new Glorioso’s building may be finished, but that doesn’t mean the Italian family isn’t done improving its business. The old building is being used for an expanded catering service, and a 12-month cooking class series where people can cook Italian specialty products with guest chefs. Also, work has begun on a new internet business that will sell Glorioso’s products online.

Even with comparisons of the new store to Pick’n Save, and Whole Foods customers don’t need to worry that Glorioso’s is abandoning the people who grew up with them by going modern. “We’re strictly an Italian supermarket, and it’s going to stay that way,” E. Glorioso said.

This article was originally published on Media Milwaukee. 

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