Grazie! Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe Celebrates 90 Years

Patch looks for secrets to success from the Connecticut kings of the grinder.


It’s a magnificent American success story that began in the early 1920s when three Italian immigrant brothers began selling a food product then considered foreign to most Connecticut residents: the grinder.

A little deli in a Waterbury neighborhood supermarket called Nardelli's started selling meat, cheese and veggies on full loaves of bread for 30 cents apiece. The locals were hooked.

Soon, lines of people from all walks of life would wind their way out the door, around the building and down the street for that great taste. And the patrons would keep coming for the next 90 years.

That’s right: Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppe is a nonagenarian - in its 90s - and is among a rare group of local businesses that can stake that claim, or anything close to it.

Since the business was founded in 1922, our country has faced a World War, the Great Depression and 16 economic recessions. On a local level, the municipalities of Waterbury and Naugatuck, where the two original Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppes are located, have lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs whose holders kept local businesses alive for many years.


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Through it all, Nardelli’s has not only survived, it has thrived. It has been named the top Connecticut grinder shop for 11 consecutive years by Connecticut Magazine. It has received national recognition by food publications and broadcasts. And it has branched from two family-owned businesses to seven locations, five of which are run by franchisees. Nardelli's Grinder Shoppes are now located in Naugatuck, Waterbury, Oxford, Southbury, Middletown and Danbury.

Still, the line that stands out most on the business' resume is that the company is now in its third-generation under the Nardelli name. The three current owners are descendents of those who originally built the business into a resounding local success story.

Only about 30 percent of family businesses survive into the second generation, 12 percent are still viable into the third generation and only about 3 percent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond, according to the Family Business Institute. 

Nardelli's is managed by siblings and Middlebury residents Tony Nardelli, Marco Nardelli and Diane Nardelli Troiano. Tony and Diane have children and hope that a fourth generation of Nardellis will take over the family business one day.

"It's a tradition that we're very proud of and we take tremendous pride in it," Diane said.

Linda Bond September 27, 2012 at 11:17 AM
It is truly the best grinder place around.
The PTA Lady Right ? September 27, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Is a Grinder the same as a Hoagie or a Sub ? Or is there some nuaince between all 3 ?


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