Your Neighbourhood Grocer

2017/11/01 - Written by Marisa Iacobucci
Frank DeRose and Gabriele Torchetti, photo by Giulio Muratori
Frank DeRose and Gabriele Torchetti, photo by Giulio Muratori
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Since 1959, Lady York Foods has been known as “your neighbourhood grocer,” but these days it’s obvious to business partners Gabriele Torchetti and Frank DeRose that it’s much more than that.

Lady York Foods – renowned for its European specialty products, daily fresh produce, top-grade meats, customer appreciation and competitive pricing – has become a destination for many and serves customers across and beyond the city. “We’re fortunate to have had a very loyal client base over the years. Customers – regulars and new ones – come from far and wide. We have customers from downtown, Vaughan, Pickering, Guelph and even from as far out as Buffalo,” says Gabriele. Lady York Foods has been at its current location on Dufferin Street, just south of Lawrence Avenue, since 1985. Gabriele’s father, Giuseppe Torchetti, is one of the co-founders of Lady York Food Market, which was originally located on Wilson and Lady York Avenues. 

 

“We’re fortunate to have had a very loyal client base over the years.

Customers – regulars and new ones – come from far and wide"

 

Giuseppe, who was born in Ofena, Abruzzo, was committed to providing his customers with a contemporary North American retail experience while maintaining old-world service. Since the beginning, he was always up before sunrise to visit the food terminal downtown to select fresh produce for the day. He also provided home deliveries and knew many of his customers by their first name and address. Today, 48-year-old Frank DeRose is married to Giuseppe’s daughter, Maria, and continues the daily food terminal visits. He’s up at 4 a.m. every day to select fresh fruits and vegetables for the store. “We take great pride in offering fresh fruit and vegetables daily to our customers and in responding to customer requests for specialty items,” says Frank. “If someone asks for something we don’t carry, we find it and know other customers will appreciate it too.”

Giuseppe passed away in 2009, but his spirit lives on at the supermarket with the help of various family members. Gabriele, 50, is the eldest of four children that include Maria DeRose, Vincenzo Torchetti and Concetta Torchetti. Gabriele and sister Maria work in the family business, as does their mother Lucia. “My mother is still very active in the day-to-day,” says Gabriele. “You can see her walking up and down the aisles and treating customers and staff like family.”

Gabriele began his career at Lady York at the age of six as a door greeter. He still knows some of the original customers and continues to meet, greet and interact with customers daily. His wife, Luisa, was a long-time Lady York customer. They now have three young children. Maria and Frank have one daughter and three sons. Their sons work for the business part-time and summers. The extended Lady York family includes employees; many have been with the company for decades. “We’re lucky to have a very loyal and committed staff,” says Gabriele.

Through the years, Lady York Foods has successfully continued to grow its product selection to meet the needs of its diverse clientele. In addition to carrying some of the finest European foods and ingredients, they also offer gluten-free and organic foods for their health-conscious customers.  This year, they expanded to build an on-site kitchen for their hot-table products prepared in-house daily. They have also developed their own line of products, Lady York Brand, which includes fresh pasta, tomato sauces, organic olive oil and cannoli shells. “Our tomato sauce has been replicated from my mother’s recipe. It has all-natural ingredients and no sugar so that it can be as authentically Italian as possible,” says Gabriele. “It’s a favourite among our clients and all of our other products also do very well.” 

They are focusing new efforts on their catering services. Customers can order deli, cheese, fruit, veggie, sandwich and wrap platters, as well as pasta and garden salad trays. The supermarket also offers a wide variety of seasonal, holiday-themed and customized gift baskets for any occasion. “We want to continue doing what we have done well here by offering our customers what they expect,” says Frank. “They ask and we deliver.”

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