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Italian market to expand again

The St. Petersburg store will move into a building behind the current business, adding elbow room and new items.

By SHARON L. BOND, Neighborhood Times Business Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 2, 2002

The St. Petersburg store will move into a building behind the current business, adding elbow room and new items.

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second time in a year, Mazzaro's Italian market is expanding to include more items and give customers of the popular specialty store more room to move around.

Aisles are narrow because of limited retail space at the market at 2909 22nd Ave. N. Mazzaro's sells hard-crust breads, a variety of olives, prepared Italian meals, wines, spices, canned goods, bakery items and cheeses.

"The main entrance will be moved to the back. Not only will we add a couple of things -- seafood and meat markets -- we'll be spreading things out," said Kurt Cuccaro, who with his parents, Sam and Pat Cuccaro, owns the market.

Mazzaro's will expand into the building behind the main part of the market. The space had been a production facility until April of last year. At that time, the market bought the two buildings next door and a parking lot and moved some of its production there, adding more room to the retail area and 23 parking spaces. The addition cost $250,000.

The back building now being renovated will contain a production and catering kitchen and the new meat and seafood markets. The family hopes to have it finished about Feb. 1, Kurt Cuccaro said.

"We do a lot of catering without any advertising. We haven't even let people know," Cuccaro said. Extra space will be given to the lunch area, and the lunch menu will be improved, he added.

Mazzaro's is limited in the amount of retail space that it can have because it is located in an industrial area, according to Julie Weston, director of development services for the city of St. Petersburg.

Weston said the current renovation meets requirements because of the production facilities being added.

Cuccaro said the family will spend another $250,000 on the second renovation. He said the slowing economy and events of Sept. 11 did not affect the second renovation, which already had begun.

"When we do things, it's based on what we feel we can afford without going into real heavy debt," said Cuccaro, declining to disclose what Mazzaro's annual gross sales are.

Cuccaro said the number of tourists who usually come in during the season dropped after Sept. 11.

"But we are getting more and more local people coming in," he said.

Customers seem to have cut back on some of the higher-end items, such as expensive wine, that had been selling well "when stocks were going up 25 percent."

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