Local retailer Andre Proia says he believes in building on success.
He and his wife Marisa, longtime owners of Maran Fashions, started an online imported Italian food and wine business called Medusa about five years ago. It proved so popular they are ready to take it to the next level.
The Proias are partnering with Randy and Nicky Coady to launch Alfredo Pasta Boutique & More this week. Their shop offers fresh and dry pasta, Italian sauces, cheeses, take away meals, gift baskets and catering.
The new downtown store at 163 Cromwell St. is in the building that once housed Proia’s Tailoring. When Andre was growing up, his late father Alfredo Proia operated his tailoring business there for about 30 years. It closed in the 1990s.
Now Alfredo’s name and photo grace the signage of the new pasta shop.
“My father represented a generation of immigrants who brought their traditions and passion for food with them,” said Andre.
A sign on the wall of the new shop reads: “Pasta for Alfredo was not just an affordable meal, but was also a means of bringing family and friends together.”
“This is how we can share Alfredo’s passion,” said Andre, motioning to the commercial kitchen and the coolers full of fresh pasta in plain and gourmet varieties like lemon pepper, squid ink, spinach and basil.
The Proias and the Coadys began discussing the new venture last November and came up with a business plan. The shop has barely opened and already gift basket orders and catering jobs are coming in, said Randy Coady.
“We’ve already had a couple of family get-togethers and been hired for a few wedding rehearsal dinners,” he said.
Fresh pasta and sauces are supplied by Only Pasta in Woodbridge, which manufactures a wide range of pasta dishes like lasagna and prosciutto ravioli for finer restaurants, said Andre. Marisa’s brother, Tony Petti, owns Only Pasta.
“Tony is rebranding his produce for us so, once I knew I had the right partners, we were ready to go,” said Andre.
The Coadys will manage the store and Randy will work in the kitchen preparing lunch and dinner menu items for take away.
He grew up in Sarnia, graduated from Lambton College’s Hospitality and Tourism program, and has sales experience. His wife, Nicky, most recently worked for Lambton College’s food service, Compass, in food preparation.
The new shop has a large retail component. Shelves are full of dry pasta, as well as 500 millilitre jars of sauce that cost $7 to $9.
Varieties of black olives come in one-kilo bags for $17.95 each. One wall has a selection of gluten-free pasta from Italy and another has pesto and tapenade.
Seasonal products, like Italian treats at Easter and Christmas, will also be available.
Cold pressed organic olive oil from Sicily sells in 750 millilitre bottles for $31.50.
“It’s this olive oil that people couldn’t get enough of from Medusa that really showed us there is an opportunity here and that people want these products,” said Andre.
“We’re all about fresh and we’re all about gourmet.”
Alfredo Pasta Boutique & More is located at 163 Cromwell Street. Call 519-491-5500. Open daily except Sundays.
Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.