01:59AM, Tuesday 27 March 2012
The taste of Italy has a fresh new base in Maidenhead thanks to a thriving family business.
Italian Continental Stores has moved The Italian Shop to Denmark Street after being based in Vicarage Road for 37 years.
Managing director Rosario Sardo, 47, said the move was 'very emotional' but transferring to the adjoining distribution warehouse made perfect sense.
"It's always been a very successful shop," said Rosario. "It's quite unique, there's nothing else like it within a 50-mile radius, and people like coming to a family store."
Rosario's parents Carmelo, 69, and Assunta, 72, and sister Concetta, 39, are still on the shop floor to greet the regulars.
Carmelo moved to the UK with his father in the early Sixties and started up a family-run market stall in Slough in 1968 selling Italian groceries. It moved to a shop in Maidenhead High Street in 1972 before the North Town store opened.
The father-of-two, who took over as MD in 1991, said: "I remember growing up around the market stall in Slough and started taking an interest when I was 10 or 11 years old. With my mum and dad and sister in the new shop, it's much nicer to have everyone working together again."
His son Max, 17, also works there at the weekends.
"He's showing an interest and it would be a dream come true to keep it in the family," said Rosario, who lives with wife Nicola in Cookham.
The new store has improved disabled access meaning loyal customers who may be wheelchair-bound can access the aisles for the first time.
The Italian theme continues with a Renaissance-style ceiling fresco above the front entrance (pictured left) and offices named after regions in Italy.
But the Maidenhead Rotary Club immediate past president said it was important to keep business local with Maidenhead builders Farr and Roberts carrying out a design by architects Heighway Associates in Marlow.
The new store will host Italian chef Gino D'Acampo signing copies of his book Italian Home Baking on Saturday, May 5 from 1-2pm.
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