The Turco’s specialty grocery store in Yorktown Heights was scheduled to begin operating as an Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace store on Oct. 21, following its acquisition by the Farmingdale, Long Island-based chain. Uncle Giuseppe’s operates stores in East Meadow, Massapequa, Melville, Port Jefferson Station, Port Washington and Smithtown on Long Island and in Ramsey, New Jersey.
Uncle Giuseppe’s is headed by Carl DelPrete, co-founder and CEO, and Philip DelPrete, co-
founder and president. “I’ve known the DelPretes for over 30 years,” Preston Turco told the Business Journal. “They, like myself, broke their rear ends to get to where they are and they’re extremely successful. All their new stores are really state of the art, better than any supermarket I’ve ever seen.”
Uncle Giuseppe’s plans a renovation and expansion of the Turco’s store at 370 Downing Drive. “The store needs it,” Turco said. “It’s 20 years old, so a lot of the cases and fixtures need to be updated, so they’re going to do it fine. They’re great people, very fine workers and they have a staff of 1,800 people behind them. They’re going to make the store even better.”
Selling the store marks the end of a long career in the food business for Turco. He learned the trade while working at his father’s green grocer store in upper Manhattan, eventually opening three of his own fruit and vegetable stores in the Bronx. That was followed by his opening of a Turco’s store on Central Avenue in Hartsdale, which started out at under 10,000 square feet and grew to more than twice that size. Hartsdale also was where he met his wife, Evelyn. About 30 years into the run of the Hartsdale store, Turco’s North LLC opened in Yorktown Heights and the Hartsdale location was phased out.
“You know, being an independent and being in Westchester for 44 years, when I first opened there was Finast, there was Bohack, there was A&P, there was Shopwell, there was Food Emporium. There were dozens of supermarkets everywhere and I survived them all. I’ve got to thank the customers. They chose me to be their supermarket, so it’s all them,” Turco said.
Turco’s has been known not only for the items on its shelves and in its food cases, but for the baked goods and specialties it has been preparing fresh daily, sometimes several times a day. The Yorktown Heights store, covering about 39,000 square feet, has been operated with a payroll of about 180 employees, who were expected to transfer to Uncle Giuseppe’s. Among the store’s features have been a food court, an ice cream parlor, a cappuccino bar, a soup and salad bar and a pizzeria offering 20 varieties. Uncle Giuseppe’s stores have similar features. Its largest is the one at Port Jefferson Station with 53,570 square feet, followed by the 49,645-square-foot store in Ramsey.
Turco, who is 73, said the expressions of thanks and warmth he’s been receiving from customers and colleagues alike in recent days has brought a few tears to his eyes. “We had great relationships with our people, all the people, customer after customer. It’s great,” he said.
Turco said that he and Evelyn plan to remain active in retirement. “We ride bikes, we play tennis, we ski, we horseback ride, we play golf, we swim. I used to ski once a year. Now I’m going to ski three or four times a year. It’s time to relax.”