It is traditional for businesses to mark a store opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
But if the new shop is an Italian deli, there are more appropriate markers than ribbon.
So it was that Fratello’s Deli and Catering marked the opening of its shop at 18201 Dixie Highway with a salami-cutting ceremony.
Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld did the honors during an opening reception Friday. The shop will open for business Monday, May 11, with regular hours of 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Co-owner Adrian Martino said the shop is the realization of an idea he and co-owner Marco Caso had about 14 years ago when both were working in a delivery business.
“Italian deli food was always our favorite,” Martino said. “We would go inside a deli, buy a pound of lunch meat, some olives, some fresh mozzarella, get our pocket knives, carve out the bread and on the front seat of the truck, make our sandwiches.
“We thought, you know maybe we’ll do a deli one day with a dining room inside it, so you’ll get the experience of the deli with dining too. Here we are 14 years later, our idea is coming to reality.”
The pair have experience in the food business, providing food at Prairie State College and at several area factories. They ran Al’s Beef in Chicago Heights for a time.
They were familiar with the South Suburbs, and when they decided to develop the deli, Homewood got their attention.
“Homewood kept drawing us back,” Martino said. “We love the downtown.”
He said they looked at another downtown location and were walking to the car when they noticed the former Expressions hair salon was available.
He said they called Denise Raines, the real estate agent listed on the sign.
“She met us here in like two minutes. She was great. We were sold.”
The deli offers fresh meats, dessert delicacies from Sweet Annie’s in Flossmoor, sandwiches, wraps and pasta dishes, from pollo caprese to buffalo blue chicken and rigatoni a la vodka. The shelves are stocked with pastas, spices and other ingredients for Italian cooking, from roasted peppers to lupini beans.
The dining area has nine tables. Martino said they wanted it to have its own feel while still being part of the establishment. Instead of building a wall or other barrier, they had created a floor with a light color to establish the dining space.
“We wanted to define the dining room,” he said. “Our builders sold us on epoxy stained concrete. They just knocked it out of the park.”