“Teitel Brothers Wholesale and Retail Grocery Company” is one of the oldest family owned business in Belmont, the “Little Italy of the Bronx”. The Jewish-Austrian immigrant brothers Jacob and Morris Teitel – who actually spoke Italian, established the grocery shop in 1915. Located on the corner of Arthur Avenue and 186th Street, the store is so important to the history of this community, that 186th Street was once named Teitel Brothers Street.
Already in its fourth generation, the grocery shop carries a wide variety of Italian import food, including especially Parmesan cheese, olive oil and dried fruit. The space inside this corner store is tight, and there are products all over the store – from bags piled in the floor to meat that hangs up close to your head. Already from the outside one can see the variety of products offered in the grocery: there are many cans piled up on the sidewalk outside of the store. Don’t be fooled by the shop’s small size, it serves restaurants all over the tri-state area and people from all over the country shop online at their website.
“Teitel Brothers” seems to be very proud of the quality of their products. It is the only store, for example, that has the right to market the “Don Luigi Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. This olive oil that is produced and imported from Italy is considered one of the best original olive oils in the world. According to “Teitel Brothers” this oil’s special characteristics make it impossible to reproduce.
Another one of their ‘prize-possessions’ is the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Chances are that when you walk into the store you will be greeted with a slice of this strong-tasting cheese. As claimed in one of their commercials (watch it here), “there’s only one place in NYC where you can find this imported Italian delicacy at the lowest prices anywhere”. The Parmigiano-Reggiano (from the Italian provinces of Parma and Reggio Emilia) cheese label is protected under Italian Law. For a cheese to be able to use this label it must follow some very specific regulations, including the area in which it is produced and for how long it is aged. It is common to see in supermarket similar cheeses under the name of Parmesan. These cheeses are similar to the Parmigiano-Reggiano, but do not follow all specifications and are not original like the cheese found at “Teitel Brothers”.
Although being a traditional store, almost a century old, the shop has also evolved with the neighborhood surrounding it. As well as the population from the Belmont area that has changed from mostly Italians to a combination of Hispanics and Albanians, the employees at the shop are also very diverse. There are Latinos, Albanians, and even a Macedonian working at the shop.
“Teitel Brothers” importance to Belmont comes not only from its decades of service to the community as a grocery shop and from the quality of its imported Italian products. The shop is a link between the past and the present of Belmont and even today Italian-Americans who do not live in Belmont anymore still go shopping there.