Thursday, April 07, 2011

Castro's Ferrari Foods Closing
Because of Bankruptcy Filing?

Normally, I don't read the business section of SF Chronicle in the morning on recycled-tree, but the headline about the personal and financial issues at the A.G. Ferrari Italian foods company caught my eye.

This boutique chain has an outlet on Castro Street and I've shopped there over the years, enjoying their selection of tasty cheeses and delicious sweets. (Ok, they've also had friendly, hunky male staffers to wait on customers, providing another reason for a gay man to be a customer at the upscale deli.)

What are some of the troubles? The Chronicle's business reporter Andrew S. Ross explained the sad news:

For A.G. Ferrari Foods, "importers of fine Italian foods since 1919," heartbreak has come suddenly, and in threes.

Last month, twin "godfathers" of the business - Harold Ferrari, 88, son of founder Annibale Giovanni Ferrari, and brother-in-law Vincent Cerletti, 89, - passed away, within three days of each other.

On Monday, the company announced it had filed for bankruptcy, the day after its Solano Avenue store in Berkeley shut its doors. A second store, in Sunnyvale, closed Wednesday night. ...

East Bay and Peninsula residents must be ruing the closures in their neighborhoods, but what about the store on Castro Street and its future? Is it staying open for business and if so, for how long, given the general economy and local business ills in the Castro district? The Chron said:

As is the case for other retailers in the Bay Area, the economic downturn combined with high rents has hit A.G. Ferrari hard. ...

In the interview, [CEO Paul] Ferrari said he is seeking to renegotiate leases on the Peninsula and in the South Bay - the company has stores in Belmont, Los Altos and Palo Alto, in addition to Sunnyvale. "Possibly a few more will close," said Ferrari. But, "right now," he said, the stores in San Francisco, the East Bay and Corte Madera are safe. ...

Whew, that is temporarily good news for fans of the Castro Street outlet, not to mention also good to hear for the folks who work there. That "right now" part could easily change.

I hope it stays in business for a very long time, despite the bankruptcy filing by the parent company. San Francisco's gayest district has more than enough empty storefronts, right now. It doesn't need any more venues shuttering.

(The Castro Street store, shown above, in a 2006 photo. Credit: RobertR2006, Flickr.)

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