“When a customer walks up to our deli counter and they want imported Parma prosciutto from Italy sliced very thin, we can do that for them,” he adds. “If they then ask us if we have penne pasta, what we will do, as long as another customer isn’t waiting, is show them where they can find it instead of just telling them. We focus on providing an excellent shopping experience while also offering quality products at competitive prices.”
Doris Italian Market also engages its customers through the ways it places items on its shelves. “We try to keep customers excited every time they walk in,” he adds. “We always have a sale going or a new product, and we switch up our displays so customers get a different look at things. That’s an important part of our success.”
The market’s five locations in Broward and Palm Beach counties in South Florida offer fresh meats, an authentic Italian-American deli and bakery, fresh fruits and vegetables, a fresh seafood department, a catering service, gourmet items and a wine department featuring a selection from around the world. “We carry specialty products from all over the world that you can’t really find at a regular supermarket, and that’s what our customers come to us for; they know they can only find certain things here and not at Walmart or Publix,” Alfano says.
The Family Touch
Doris Italian Market’s history of family ownership dates all the way back to its founding in 1947. Alfano’s grandfather, Carmelo – who had worked as a butcher since his childhood in Sicily – purchased the store in the 1980s from its original owner. The store’s name was inspired by the original owner’s daughter and retained by the Alfano family, Joey Alfano notes.
Carmelo Alfano’s wife and Joey Alfano’s grandmother, Maria, also played an important role in the family business. Maria Alfano, now 84, still works in Doris Italian Market’s bakery department. “She was very hands-on, and a lot of the success we have now was the result of the hard work of the family back then,” Joey Alfano says.
The Alfano family remains closely involved in the market’s day-to-day operations and management. “Having our owners being personally involved in the store I think makes a huge difference,” Alfano says. “We really want our employees to reflect to our customers the way we feel about them, which is that we appreciate them and there wouldn’t be a Doris Italian Market without them.”
Doris Italian Markets’ employees are considered part of the extended Alfano family. “Our culture is definitely not your typical corporate culture,” he adds. “Since a lot of our family works in our stores, we’ve gotten to know a lot of our employees and their family members, and many of our employees have worked for us for a long period of time.”
The Alfano family plans to continue its legacy of service well into the future. The Doris Italian Market locations in Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines, Fla., were recently renovated, and its Boca Raton store will start renovations in 2015. Also, the family plans to build a new location in West Palm Beach in 2016. “We started with one store when we bought the company and now we have five,” Alfano says. We take pride in our business and are constantly focused on improvement and growth.”