When Camille Pabon and Lorian Prince aren’t working, they’re still together, whether it be just hanging out or coming back to Del Fiore Italian Market, the business the two sisters own, to make dinner for the family.
“Even on our days off, we still hang out,” Prince said. “But the store is like home base. After work we call each other. People would think, ‘Haven’t I had enough of you yet?’”
The bond the two have makes for a thriving business, both because of the home-style, handmade, all-natural products they put out and because of the atmosphere they create.
“My dad remembers everybody’s name and I always marveled at that,” Prince said of Salvatore D’Elia, who opened the first Del Fiore Italian Pork Store in Patchogue with his brother Felice D’Elia and brother-in-law Carmine Galeotafiore in 1971. “He always has some sort of story to go along with each customer, and even today when he comes in, people love the little information that he throws at them from way back when.”
The sisters have tried to do the same.
“I’m not good with names. I’m really good with faces, and then I feel guilty because I don’t remember their names, but they’re really good with that,” said Heather Crane, a longtime friend of Pabon’s who’s worked on and off with the family for 20 years. “They’re like a second family here. They get along so well and I envy their relationship. I admire it. My family works together and I don’t want to be there with all that chaos, but they’re really cute together.”
The Del Fiore store in Patchogue, which has since moved up the block from its original location, is still owned by the Galeotafiore family, and Felice D’Elia has since moved to Florida and opened up a similar deli there.
Salvatore D’Elia opened up the Rocky Point shop in March 1973 with his wife Marie, who said she used to take time on her lunch breaks from her job at Slomin’s, which was next door to one of the company’s several locations in Massapequa, to stock shelves with her husband.
“It was a first time for me to run a business and first time for him to run a business, and we did well,” she said.
Pabon and Prince started in the Rocky Point store at a young age.
“I wanted to do everything and I started serving customers as soon as I could see over the counter,” Pabon said. “Maybe not very well, but I thought I was doing something.”
Seeing the company pass onto the next generation is something that warms their mother’s heart.
“He and I are very, very proud of them taking over and doing a wonderful job,” she said. “Better than us, actually.”
Modestly, the sisters laugh about doing a better job than their parents. Although Del Fiore closed its doors in several locations like Massapequa, Selden, College Point and Ronkonkoma, business remains in Rocky Point.
“In the summertime, we do a lot of catering, providing some of the wineries with sandwiches — a man does a wine tour and puts out hot food from us every weekend — so we dread the weekends in the summer,” Pabon said, laughing. “We don’t look forward to them at all.”
The sisters make fresh mozzarella, ravioli, fried eggplant, sopressata and meatballs, among other Italian products, at the shop they renamed Del Fiore Italian Market when they took over the company 10 years ago. Their food contains no additives or preservatives, making it one of the only places the family, and even their coworkers, will purchase food from. Italian novelties also hang above the counter, and other shelves are lined with hard-to-find products, like coffee presses, that you may not find at a local supermarket.
Although the business model has changed a bit, as the sisters make more premade foods for those who are too busy to make dishes themselves, the sisters have learned to adapt to the changing culture.
“We were used to people that cooked,” Marie D’Elia said. “They came in and bought the raw supplies and they cooked it. Now, they come in and they want already fried chicken or premade meatballs, croquettes and rice balls. But the girls have brought in new ideas.”
For both sisters, the decision to work at the store after graduating college was an easy one, and said they’re lucky they have the opportunity to work together.
“I tried it,” Prince said. “I worked in a doctor’s office, and then I thought, why work for someone else when you can work for family?”