Aroma of Brady
Longtime businesses expand, bake and braise
By Tom Momberg
Ted and Joe Glorioso have been selling Italian imports and deli to the east side of Milwaukee for over 65 years. In 2010, a new location across the street filled from floor to ceiling with specialty wines, cheeses and olives giving the family more space to expand their business.
The smell of smoked ham only lasts until 8 p.m. when Glorioso’s wraps up its prosciutto. Still, if Brady Steet patrons are walking out the door while employees are locking up behind them, the fragrances do not stop with smoked meat.
Even if they’re more than a block away, the smell of fresh baked bread fills the street after Sciortino’s second shift bakers slide loaves of Italian from the ovens to the cooling racks. It may be dark outside, but light gleaming from the Sciortino’s Bakery kitchen gives passers-by a look at the next day’s edibles.
And they bake… working from dusk until dawn.
The bakery is producing at its maximum capacity. The Vella family, owners of bakery have also been planning an expansion. Like the Glorioso brothers, they wanted to continue making Brady Street their home.
Owner Joe Vella said that production is limited by space.
“We are baking 24-7,” said Vella, “Our kitchen is just too small. We aren’t expanding to pick up more business, we’re expanding to accommodate what we currently have.”
Sciortino’s delivers products to over 175 restaurants and grocers daily from Manitowoc to Madison and northern Chicago. Though Vella is planning to do some renovation in the retail space, the focus of the expansion is to increase production area.
Vella recently purchased the single-family house to the south of the bakery on Humboldt Boulevard. Despite historical landmark status, the Wisconsin Historical Society and local government have permitted the project on the building.
Vella’s wife, Rhiana, said that a bigger kitchen is not intended to boost sales, but the extra space would allow for business growth in the future.
The store makes up for only a fraction of their sales. As spring continues, the companies that make orders through Sciortinos will keep the family busy.
In addition to expanding the business, the Vella’s living quarters on the second floor will also branch out to the new lot line. The retail space will become a little bigger, but Vella said that another goal of the remodel is to make the area handicapped accessible.
“Worried about the investment?” asked Vella, “Yes of course, but our business has been around for 65 years.”
The retail economy may be struggling, but construction costs are low. Leroy Buth, board member of the Brady Steet Business Improvement District (BID) said that it’s a family commitment that keeps businesses like Glorioso’s and Sciortino’s going.
“It’s a commitment to what they are doing,” said Buth, “they have been around for generations.”
Mas Musa, general manager of Casablanca said that they are often turning away customers due to limited space.
“Everything has been approved,” said Musa, “We have our worries but we are here for the long run.”
Musa runs the restaurant in partnership with his brother Alaa, the owner. Musa even offers to share a hookah if you just stop in to talk to him. If hookah smoke is an issue, then go in after the expansion when the smoking room will be drifting up to a new second floor.
Certainly Brady’s facelift won’t stop there. Businesses will continue to come and go. The area’s appearance will continue to change.
The Musa brothers, the Gloriosos, and the Vellas have invested a kind of permanence in the neighborhood. These business owners are committing to having their homemade aromas continue to fill the air of Brady Street.