Leo Coldanato, the owner of Joe’s Superette, lost his fight with bone cancer on Wednesday, one day after we posted this story about the closure of his beloved Smith Street store, Joe’s Superette.
Prosciutto balls, we hardly knew ye.
Joe’s Superette Deli, a beloved slice of old Italian-American Carroll Gardens, has closed after 50 mouthwatering years on Smith Street, the latest iconic food joint to shutter in a rapidly changing borough.
This time, the villain isn’t high rents or gentrification.
Owner Leo Coldanato, who has owned the store since 1985, has been ill for some time, and his remaining employees say they can’t handle the workload.
According to one neighboring storeowner, Coldanato is suffering from bone cancer.
“That makes me sad. He was such a nice man,” said Carroll Gardens customer, Lynne Sachs. “He would always be cooking in the back, so it added this nice atmosphere.”
The closing of the store is a disaster for fans of its famous prosciutto balls.
“Our legacy will be those balls,” said Joe Ranieri, Coldanato’s long-time friend who helped out around the deli, which was between Carroll and Second streets.
“They come from all over to get them. Some people call us from California and Florida and want us to ship them down. We use to have one firm’s boss that would come in each holiday and get eight dozen of each type of ball. He’s going to miss this.”
The owner’s health may be the main cause of the demise of Joe’s, but the store is also a victim of a changing Carroll Gardens, which transformed from Brooklyn’s “Little Italy” to just another neighborhood of young upper-class professionals in little more than two generations.
“The neighborhood is changing so much,” said resident Jake Carling. “Honestly, five years from now people are going to be like, ‘Joe’s who?’ That’s just the neighborhood, it’s in flux.”