In the spring of 1949, Pete and Pauline Capps bought a vending space at the Cowtown Rodeo in South Jersey and built their first concession stand. Spectators and cowhands alike stood in line for steaming hot, open-faced steak sandwiches smothered in peppers and onions, fresh-cut fries, a kind word and a smile. Soon my grandparents had six of these "grab joints," and eventually opened a full-service restaurant called the Hickory Steak House in their hometown of Bridgeton, NJ. As a child, I spent summers with my dad's family, helping with the restaurant, and later, worked for my uncle's catering business in West Chester, PA - a full service picnic park that serves 200,000 people annually (visit www.picnic.com for more details).
Today, third and fourth generation family members are pursuing careers in food-related businesses. Our fundamental approach still applies after 50 years; sell the customer something unique and tasteful at a reasonable price, and appreciate them in the process.
While the Capps gave me my appreciation of good business sense and entrepreneurship, the Grecos gave me my love of food and family tradition. The Grecos arrived in Washington, PA at the turn of the century and four of the five brothers settled on Mill Street. The fifth returned to home to Bovina, Foggia in southeast Italy, where many relatives remain today. Here in Washington, the family always congregated at the house of the eldest brother, Guiseppe, for food, music and family. One can only imagine what the meals must have been like at these gatherings. Homemade breads, pastas and sauces... meats and cheeses... olives and peppers... Once they were full, my great-grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, cousins and friends would sit on the back porch by the grape arbors, and sing and dance to concertina music into the night.
The Grecos still maintain this tradition today, and even my immediate family has its own version on Christmas Eve. It is reserved for my mother's family and is always done exclusively in Italian foods. We will always have fond memories of my maternal Grandmother, Patricia Frank Greco, who made our mouths water with fresh bread, thick-crusted pizza and biscotti. She distributed the goodies, always carefully wrapped, among her children and their children.
That's why my first specialty store had to be "Greco's," to honor a tradition that has always placed a priority on family, laughter, affection and good food. We hope you enjoy visiting us as much as we have enjoyed creating Greco's Gourmet Catering and Greco's Gourmet To Go.