Cangiano’s closes, ending an era

Cangiano’s closes, ending an era
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

A Third Avenue grocery store that was part of a once-sprawling family empire closed its doors on Friday after nearly 100 years in business — taking with it its legendary sausage and fresh mozzarella.

Cangiano’s on Third Avenue between Ovington and Bay Ridge avenues was the last shop standing for the handful of family-owned Italian groceries in Gravesend, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Staten Island.

“The neighborhood changed and they just couldn’t get the business that they used to get,” said Gus Cangiano, whose family owned the business.

Cangiano’s father, Pasquale, a Naples-born butcher, founded his first shop in Bensonhurst in 1919, but after dying of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 47, his wife Anna took over the business with her seven children in tow — and grew it into an empire.

“We were brought up in the trade,” said Cangiano. “We used to work 16 hours a day.”

But the newer generation just didn’t have the energy to keep the dream alive, he said.

“My sons didn’t want it; it was too many hours,” he said. “My nephew went to college and it was too much work for him.”

The Bay Ridge shop was founded in the early 1990s by his nephew, who recently leased the business to a new manager.

Ridgite Joan Hajjar said that she has been a regular for 10 years, and will miss the fresh, homemade food.

“There’s nothing like a loaf of bread on a Saturday, and they always had fresh products,” she said on Friday after taking advantage of the shop’s going-out-of-business sale. “[I liked] their homemade mozzarella and their cold cuts. It’s a shame.”

The shop’s closure marks the second old-school establishment to close in Bay Ridge in as many weeks. Hinsch’s soda fountain on Fifth Avenue called it quits on Sept. 29.

Melanie McArdell, of Bay Ridge, took advantage of the 50 percent off sale on Cangiano’s final day in business.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham