OLD BRIDGE – Larry and Christine Ciccone of Old Bridge have been running Ciccone’s Italian Deli in Old Bridge together for eight years. They will celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary on June 26.
“She’s the boss and I’m the owner,” said Larry. “Working together was never a concern. I’ve seen her (Christine) every day since I was a teenager; work is no different.”
Larry and Christine met in 1979 on a street corner in their Brooklyn neighborhood when Larry was 19-years-old and Christine was 15. Just before they met, Larry took a job on Wall Street as a trader. They married in 1983 and lived in Staten Island for 10 years before moving to New Jersey in 1993.
Larry retired in 2000 at age 40, and started working part-time at R&R’s Deli, which would later become Ciccone’s Italian Deli. “I worked part-time during the day just until the kids got home from school,” said Larry. “When I heard the owner was thinking of selling it, I talked it over with my wife (Christine) and we decided to put in a bid. Now, here we are.”
The Ciccone’s took over the space in February 2002. Before them, the establishment had five different owners. “We knew the community always wanted a good, Italian deli and we wanted to be able to offer top-of-the-line food,” said Larry, who makes their own homemade mozzarella and marinara sauce daily.
Larry said he is big on being friendly at work; he likes to get to know all of his customers. “When I used to work on Wall Street, I knew 90 percent of the people on the trading floor. My father always told me to be courteous and say hello to people – and doing that has gotten me far in life.”
When it came time to consider the financial part of running a business, the Ciccone’s stayed local. They turned to The Provident Bank where they have been customers for more than a decade. “I go to Provident several times a week; they are right down the block,” said Larry. “They are helpful and always there.”
Larry and Christine have been with Provident since the bank bought First Savings Bank in Woodbridge in 1993. “I know everyone at the Old Bridge branch,” said Larry. “No matter when I go in there, the employees know me and they are ready to help me. It’s local, personal and reliable.”
The Ciccone’s also have two children. Their oldest daughter, Stephanie, is 22 and their youngest daughter, Kimberly, is 19. The two help out at the deli from time-to-time during the holidays and school breaks.
“Working together has been good for our marriage,” said Larry. “She (Christine) does her thing and I do mine; I work with the customers and she works in the office and in the kitchen.” Though they usually work on different aspects of the business, they run into each other throughout the day.
Larry said they key to having a successful small business is exceptional customer service. “I look at things from the customers’ perspective. I stand in front of the meat case and ask myself, ‘Would I eat that?’ and the answer is always yes. You can’t fool the customer,” said Larry.
Ciccone’s Italian Deli and catering serves the community of Old Bridge and is a favorite for many in Middlesex County. The deli was voted best caterer and deli by the Home News Tribune’s Readers Choice Awards in 2009 and Best of the Best Runner-Up in 2008.
Allie Liebowitz (right), assistant branch manager at The Provident Bank’s Old Bridge branch, stopped by Ciccone’s Italian Deli for lunch on National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. Larry (left) and Christine Ciccone (center) of Old Bridge started the family-owned deli eight years ago.
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