To most people, opening a small gourmet food store during a tough economy only a mile away from big-name supermarkets like ShopRite and Stop & Shop is crazy.
However, a year and a half ago, the Livoti family decided to pack up their Staten Island store and open their doors in the Strathmore Shopping Plaza in Aberdeen.
“We wanted to make our way out to Jersey,” said Mike Ali, the general manager of and Owner John Livoti's son-in-law. “We describe ourselves as an Italian gourmet high-end specialty store but with fair pricing. We’re a specialty store that gives you a high end feel when you walk through the door.”
Ali admitted moving to a smaller town with new customers caused some anxiety for his family. However, since Livoti’s opened people have become loyal customers because of the high quality food and friendly atmosphere, he said, noting that the staff knows the majority of customers by name.
“We were nervous opening up next to and because they are two really big stores, but the people took to us because we’re a special store,” Ali said. “Everybody comes in and they feel like they’re at home.”
Livoti’s remains competitive by offering gourmet foods to-go, the low-priced cold cuts, a bakery, and even mozzarella that is handmade by an employee, Ali said.
In addition to loyal customers doing their grocery shopping at Livoti's each week, the store is also well known for catering. They cater all types of events and parties throughout New Jersey and even sometimes in New York. During the summer, when business is booming, they cater an average of 70 to 80 events a week.
The holidays are also very busy for the small gourmet store, but now that Christmas and New Year's are over, Livoti's is looking at their slowest time of year for catering. However, they spice things up every Sunday with taste-tastings and a Frank Sinatra impersonator who sings for customers.
Craig Raskin, a regular customer, said he does not shop anywhere else because their healthy and fresh options, such as the grilled chicken, helped him lose 200 pounds.
Camille Castiello, a native New Yorker who works across the street, could not stop raving about the food. The salmon and cold cuts are "to die for," she said.
“I don’t buy my meat or fish anywhere else,” Castiello said. "I’m Italian from New York. This is what I’m used to. When [Livoti's] came here it was like the best thing that ever happened to us.”