What a treat to meet with Joe Lomanno, Jr. at family owned Superior Pasta Company. Originally established in 1948, the store and production facility is located right in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Italian Market.
Owner Joe, Sr. wasn’t in the day I visited – in the middle of the week – because he prefers to work the weekends, prime time for talking with the customers. In fact, according to his son, the customers are the prime reason why Joe, Sr. purchased the store in 1999. “My father was always a customer, and always knew the owners. An opportunity came up where the store became available, and he was interested. A couple years after that we took over the whole manufacturing.” With a prior business history of working for a logistics company, Joe, Sr. always had a passion for food and always wanted to be around people, the market, and the neighborhood. Purchasing the business guaranteed him that he would always be a part of all he loves.
The mission of Superior Pasta Company is to offer the highest quality products at the lowest possible cost. According to Joe, Jr., being in their particular location offers that opportunity. “We have access to so many great ingredients. Our produce comes from right next door; our meats are local right from the butcher store up the street; everything is fresh; nothing is frozen.”
The additional leg of the mission is to provide total customer satisfaction. “What we value is a sense of community, a sense of family – it’s the neighborhood, the store, and the customers.”
Joe, Jr. got involved in the business in 2000, right after graduating from Penn State, with a major in Marketing. Joe appreciates working in the family business, and says the best part is having his family around him all the time. “I get to work with my parents and cousins, and during the holidays, we hire more cousins and friends.” As I was listening, it sounded like both family and location were pretty special to Joe. He mentioned having previously lived above the store for ten years. “The week before Christmas, there’s a buzz here. All the stores are crowded; there’s Christmas music everywhere; all the stores are decorated; everyone’s in a good mood. It’s a fun experience and a great thing to be a part of, with so much history and tradition. It’s really great.”
When I asked Joe about his specific training and education for this business his response was, “Clara.” He elaborated, “When we took over the production part of the business we employed the people that were here. There was one woman, Clara, in particular, who I learned a lot from. She worked here for more than 30 years and just recently passed away at the age of 89.”
Joe continued his praise for Clara. “She created the recipe for our sauce. She’d throw in a couple spoonfuls of this; a handful of salt; a couple pinches of pepper. After awhile the previous owners said, ‘You know, we ought to write this down.’ She was incredible – the heart and soul of the business - the one constant through the different owners. I learned a lot through Clara.”
Here’s something to note for our Doylestown Food Market customers: Introducing a vegan line was the company’s main goal in 2015. It appears to have been a great decision as it’s doing well, with a great response. ”There’s a big vegan community in the city and more and more people are coming back to try it and buy it again. A lot of people really enjoy it.”
You will have two opportunities to taste a variety of Superior Pasta Company specialties, including their vegan line: Fun First Friday, January 8, 5-7 PM, and Saturday, January 30, 10:30 – 12:30. Enjoy 20% off all Superior Pasta Company products during the month. For more information on the business, visit their Facebook page or website: www.superiorpasta.com.