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Mazzaro's to offer more of a good thing

The Italian grocery will add 23 parking spaces and 50 percent more retail space.

By SHARON L. BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 11, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Mazzaro's, the popular Italian market, is expanding. As part of the change, parking space will nearly double.

The Cuccaro family purchased the building next door to the market, at 2909 22nd Ave. N, for $250,000 and plans to move storage and production facilities there, according to Kurt Cuccaro. He and his parents, Sam and Pat Cuccaro, own the market.

Mazzaro's bakery is a huge draw with its signature hard, crusty breads. The same is true of the delicatessen, which is a popular takeout lunch spot. The market makes its own fresh mozzarella cheese and stocks specialty canned goods.

The market has been open five years and proved more successful than the Cuccaros expected, Kurt Cuccaro said. It has 26 parking spaces and limited retail space inside. That means customers must wait for a place to leave their cars and then inch through narrow, crowded aisles, especially on Saturdays.

The new property includes 23 more parking spaces and 50 percent more retail space inside.

"On a busy Saturday we might have a thousand people come in and out," Cuccaro said. He bases that estimate on knowing that Mazzaro's has from 600 to 700 transactions on busy Saturdays and that many people come in in groups but only one stands in line to pay for purchases.

"That is part of the reason for expansion. It (the market) really wasn't set up on this type of volume. When we opened, we didn't look to the future and think this would happen."

The family has budgeted about $300,000 for the expansion and hopes to add seafood and produce sections and a catering kitchen.

"This is all contingent on what we can do in the extra space we free up," Cuccaro said of the permitting process with the city of St. Petersburg. The new sections will go in the building in back of the existing market that now is the production and storage space.

It may take 60 days before the expansion begins, Cuccaro said. The market will remain open throughout the project.

"Parking is the main focus," Cuccaro said. "We want to get that done as quickly as possible."

The parking expansion could begin this week and be finished in about a week, he said.

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