Both of the Augellos are first-generation Italian-Americans who grew up in New York City, where they first met as school children.
Anita’s father was from Tuscany and her mother was from the Piedmont region of Italy. Charlie’s parents were from Sicily.
“I grew up on East 48th Street in Manhattan,” Charlie recalled in a recent chat at the market. “We met in the sixth grade, because we both went to the same Catholic school on East 43rd, and, surprisingly, both of our parents arrived in New York City in 1912.”
Before he decided to try the food business, Charlie spent 20 years in electronics.
“We moved eight different times, and after we moved to Dunwoody, I didn’t want to move anymore, so we came up with this concept,” he said.
“When we started, we didn’t have eat-in. It was strictly groceries and prepared food. But, in a few years, people were insisting on eating here‚” he said, so they got a restaurant license to serve on-premises.
As word spread, so did the customer base, with some regulars driving long distances to shop for authentic Italian ingredients they couldn’t find elsewhere.
“We had fresh mozzarella from Day 1, we made our own sausage, and we had fresh pasta,” Charlie said.
He said the advent of the Food Network on TV helped their business: “People got more enthused about cooking, and they would come and see us.”
Though Charlie mostly works part time at the market these days, he’s in charge of wine sales, which have become a growing part of the business.
“We started out with a variety of 12 bottles. Now we have over 160,” he said. “I select the wines, I rate them, and I price them. If people want to spend $15, they’ll get a good-quality wine. We also have a wine dispenser, so you can have a glass with your food.”
For some 40 years, Anita worked as a real estate agent, but early on she was at the market. And, more recently, she wrote a cookbook, “Basta Pasta Ancora,” which includes about 300 recipes, with a focus on food from the Piedmont and Tuscany regions, as well as Sicily.
“I wanted my children to understand our family and our background,” she said. “They didn’t know their grandparents, so I decided I was going to compile the cookbook with some stories, and it just grew and grew.”
The recipes originated from both sides of the family, and many go back to Anita’s and Charlie’s early days in New York City.
“Some of the recipes are from my grandmother, who had a pensione in New Jersey,” Anita said. “My father’s mother lived in a little brownstone next door to us. She did a lot of the family cooking as I was growing up, so some of my recipes are from Tuscany. And I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with Charlie’s mother and I would watch her cooking.”
Summing up the E. 48th Street Market story, Anita said it was all about family and community.
“I guess what I’m the most proud of is that, when we were deciding what we wanted to do, and where we were going to be, we did a demographic study and it was decided that Dunwoody would be the best place,” she remembered. “So, when we opened, we wanted it to be community-oriented. That’s the proudest thing for me. We have done a lot with and for the community with this store.”
E. 48th Street Market. 2462 Jett Ferry Road, Dunwoody. 770-392-1499, e48thstreetmarket.com
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