D'Agostino Supermarkets

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D'Agostino Supermarkets
Formerly
Yorkville Food Shoppe
D'Agostino Brothers
Private
IndustryGrocery retail
Founded1932
FoundersPasquale "Patsy" D'Agostino
Nicola "Nick" D'Agostino
Headquarters,
United States
Number of locations
26 stores (peak)[1]
10 stores (2017)[2]
Area served
New York City
Westchester County
Key people
Nicholas D'Agostino, Jr., Chairman
Nicholas D'Agostino, III, CEO
G. Robert James, President
RevenueUS$200,000,000+ (peak)
Websitewww.dagnyc.com
Previous logo

D'Agostino Supermarkets is a family-owned supermarket chain in the New York City area, founded in 1932 by brothers Pasquale and Nicola D'Agostino, in the pioneering phase of the supermarket industry. At D'Agostino's peak in the 1990s, the chain operated at 26 locations in New York City and adjacent Westchester County, with annual sales exceeding $200 million. By 2016 under financial pressure, D'Agostino's consolidated to nine stores (now ten), all in Manhattan, and was considering selling to a rival grocer.

Founding and expansion[edit]

The opening of D'Agostino Brothers on 20th Street (1950). Every store opened by the family was first blessed by a Catholic priest. Left to right: Patsy D'Agostino, city official, priest, Nick D'Agostino Sr.
D'Agostino's in a landmarked building at Love Lane and Henry Street, Brooklyn (1980).

The founders of D'Agostino Supermarkets, brothers Pasquale and Nicholas D'Agostino Sr., emigrated from the mountain village of Bugnara, Italy, arriving separately in New York City as teenagers in the 1920s. Due to their poverty, they skipped high school and instead furthered their education by assisting merchants including their father's fruit-and-vegetable pushcart business.[3][4][5]

In 1932, the brothers bought a small shop on Manhattan's Upper East Side, a prosperous neighborhood that could afford quality groceries even during the Great Depression. In 1939, the store moved to larger quarters nearby; the brothers named it the Yorkville Food Shoppe and added a meat department. In a key innovation, they gave people the opportunity to shop for meat, produce, dairy and baked goods in a single store, helping to pioneer and popularize the idea of the "supermarket". D'Agostino's flourished in the post-WWII economic boom and opened another large store in 1950, on 20th Street alongside Stuyvesant Town – Peter Cooper Village.[3][4][5]

Pasquale died in 1960 and Nicholas ultimately bought out his share of the business, to serve as CEO, Chairman and President, and to resolve the family succession issue. At this time, there were eight D'Agostino stores on Manhattan's East Side. With its reputation for quality meats, D'Agostino's ran popular ads in the 1960s that teased, "Please don't kiss the butcher." Nicholas D'Agostino relinquished daily management to his sons, Stephen and Nicholas Jr., in 1964. With Nicholas Sr. continuing as Chairman, Stephen became President and CEO in 1972, and Nicholas Jr. succeeded him in 1982.[3][4][5]

During the 1970s, D'Agostino's expanded to Manhattan's West Side, and promoted the chain with sturdy plastic "D'Ag Bags" that were fashionable enough to bring further cachet. The store's singing commercials, created by Jo Foxworth, with the tag line, "Please, Mr. D'Agostino, Move Closer to Me," aired routinely on radio and television during this period. At its peak in the 1990s, after two generations of steady expansion, the chain operated at 26 locations in New York City and adjacent Westchester County, with annual sales exceeding $200 million.[3][4][5][6]

Difficulties and downsizing[edit]

During the 2000s, D'Agostino's and similar stores experienced worsening competitive pressure from larger chains of supermarkets and drugstores. At the same time, worsening financial pressure from New York real estate costs, unionized labor expenses, and trade credit restrictions severely limited the cash available for refilling shelves. By 2016, under CEO Nicholas D'Agostino III, the chain consolidated back to nine stores, all in Manhattan, and was considering combining with Key Food, Gristedes, or another rival grocer. A $10 million line of credit from the owner of Gristedes helped stabilize operations.[7][8][9][10]

Popular culture[edit]

D'Agostino's has long used the slogan "New York's Grocer" and has often appeared in entertainment media to convey the New York setting. The chain figured prominently in the 1974 film Death Wish, including a series of scenes within the store itself. On television, D'Agostino's is where Will and Grace ran into each other a year after their falling out in Will & Grace, and the store was often featured in the series Friends. In Bret Easton Ellis' 1991 novel American Psycho, Patrick Bateman shops at D'Agostino's.

References[edit]

  1. ^ D'Agostino Supermarkets. "Locations". Archived from the original on February 20, 1999.
  2. ^ D'Agostino Supermarkets. "Store Locator". Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Greenhouse, Steven (June 25, 1996). "Nicholas D'Agostino Sr., 86, Founder of Grocery Chain". New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c d Grant, Tina, ed. (1998). "D'Agostino Supermarkets Inc. History". International Directory of Company Histories Vol. 19, FundingUniverse.com.
  5. ^ a b c d Smith, Andrew F. (2015). "D'Agostino". Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover's Companion to New York City. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199397020.
  6. ^ D'Agostino Supermarkets (c. 1970). Love That D'Agostino (Television commercial). New York.
  7. ^ Fickenscher, Lisa (April 20, 2015). "'New York's original grocer' struggling to survive". New York Post.
  8. ^ Fickenscher, Lisa (June 5, 2016). "City's last original grocer quietly shopping Manhattan stores". New York Post.
  9. ^ Morgan, Richard (August 26, 2016). "Red Apple rescues rival supermarket chain D'Agostino". New York Post.
  10. ^ Kaysen, Ronda (November 6, 2016). "Where Did My Supermarket Go?". New York Times.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]