A beloved founder of a Long Island staple in gourmet Italian food, Joseph Iavarone, died Sunday in Garden City. He was 88 years old.
Iavarone was the head of Iavarone Bros., an Italian gourmet business started by his father, Pasquale, in New York City after he emigrated from Italy in 1919. After serving as a medic in World War II, Joseph joined his father in the family business. Joined by his brother, Jerry, who returned from fighting in Korea, the two took over their fathers' business and expanded it beyond its city roots.
That was over 50 years ago. Today, the supermarkets cater to Wantagh, Woodbury, New Hyde Park, and Maspeth. What was once an old fashioned Brooklyn storefront has grown into both a go-to brick and mortar business and a booming internet caterer, selling everything on their website from gourmet coffee to oils and vinegars, as well as the famous sausages created by its first founder.
The Iavarone brothers complemented each other, with Jerry as the personality and Joseph as the workhorse, Joseph Iavarone Jr. told Newsday. While Joseph worked long hours cooking and making sausage at the store, his beloved wife, Angelina, was the cook and workhorse at home. She cared for their three sons Pasquale, John, and Joe Jr. and her Sunday dinner dishes made their way onto the store's menu.
Joseph's personal life was as rich as the foods he sold. His three sons continued the family business and gave Joseph nine grandchildren. He spent time with his family after he retired in 1979 and often traveled to Florida in the wintertime with Angelina, who sadly died in 2011.
Iavarone had suffered a stroke in September and went into cardiac arrest Sunday in his Garden City home where he died.
A wake will be held at Park Funeral Chapel in Garden City Park on Tuesday and Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A mass will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at St. Anne's Church in Garden City, followed by a burial at Cemetery of the Holy Rood.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Juvenile Diabetes Research or The American Cancer Society. Go to the Park Funeral Chapels website for more information.