Angelo Caputo, our founder, grew up in Mola Di Bari, a seaside village in Southern Italy. Angelo was fortunate to have been brought up with deep family values built on sacrifices and hard work. Growing up, he worked for his family’s two businesses-- one business was a wholesale outlet for farmers and the other was a grocery store.
With a passion for work, he dreamed of going to America… the land of opportunity to accomplish the American dream.
He was one step closer to his goal when, as a teenager, he received an opportunity to enlist in the US Army and gain his US citizenship. He came with nothing except the desire to work, make a name for himself, and provide for his family that he so dearly wanted in the future.
Shortly after arriving in America, he went to training camp in Arkansas and served for the US Army in Germany. During his time away from Mola, he could not forget a very important person still there, the love of his life, Romana. He spoke to his supervisor and was granted a 10 day leave of absence which he used to go talk to Romana. In 1956, Angelo and Romana got married. He finished out his service with the army and then was discharged and able to take his new bride home.
In 1958 in Elmwood Park, IL at the corner of Harlem and Wrightwood, Angelo achieved his dream of being a business owner with what would become Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets. It was truly a neighborhood market-- fresh produce that Angelo had picked from local farmers and the South Water Market that same morning. Angelo was known to drive a hard bargain, yet very well respected for his standards. His goal was to make sure his customers were getting the freshest items and the best price!
As the immigrant population in Chicago increased, Angelo recognized the growing need for specialty items. He began importing so that his customers could get staple items in their new home. Slowly, the little produce stand expanded to a full grocery store.
Shortly after opening the store in Elmwood Park, Angelo and Romana identified a unique niche that allowed them to survive and even thrive in a very competitive market where few independent retailers were successful. They offered their customers quality fruits and vegetables and the freshest meats and seafood at very competitive prices. To that, they added the personal service that every Caputo employee came to naturally, and to no one’s surprise the business flourished. Of course, Angelo and Romana’s success did not go unnoticed. Many look-a-like European grocery stores cropped up throughout the area so Angelo decided that they needed to do something that no competitor could copy. The Caputo’s made a trip back to Italy to visit family in 1984 and while there they made a point of visiting several old world food manufacturers and the beginning of the now world famous line of La Bella Romana products was launched. What began as a simple business strategy of importing volumes of authentic specialty items from around the world and passing the savings on to our customers still holds true today.
The first store soon outgrew its four walls and in 1978 it was replaced by the building above. In 1991 however, Angelo and Romana knew that they simply could not continue to grow their business with one location and decided to expand by opening their second store on Lake Street in Addison IL. We slowly continued to grow-- in store locations and in product offerings. Though we expanded, with each step and new chapter, we keep the principals and values instilled in us by Angelo. We currently have 9 locations in the Chicagoland area with our 10th on the way!
The business is now owned and operated by Angelo and Romana’s Daughter and Son-in-law, Antonella and Robertino, along with their children. We know that Angelo and Romana are watching over and guiding us from heaven. They leave us with an incredible legacy that our family will work endlessly to preserve in an effort to make them proud and give them the respect they so greatly deserve. We continue to strive to be the freshest, friendliest, and cleanest. The Legacy continues…