By Jill Nagy
A large Italian family is pooling its experience and expertise to create Raffaele’s Italian Deli and Import at the new Rexford Landing shopping center on Grooms Road.
Still under construction, the shop is expected to open in late April or early May.
Raffaele Mele, for whom the enterprise is named, is one of 12 children in a family that immigrated from Calabria in 1973.
After a short time in New York City, the family settled in south Troy, near relatives that were already in the food business. Mele now lives in Clifton Park.
“The family has restaurants all over,” he said, including Latham and Albany and Sarasota, Fla. He has worked in many of them, beginning at age 11. A brother had a pizzeria in the Troy Atrium back in the days when it was a thriving shopping mall.
Mele’s wife, Melinda, and a brother, Francesco, own the business along with him. He expects to have other siblings, nieces and nephews helping out.
“I love the location,” he said of the Rexford Landing shopping plaza. “It’s a beautiful plaza,.”
The plaza is being built by Riverview Construction Associates in Clifton Park.
Mele was adamant that the new business will not be a restaurant. It will be a deli and import store.
It will offer prepared meals, pizza, subs, and other take-out dishes. Imported meats and cheeses sold by the pound.
He also plans to offer catering. Although there will be no restaurant service, there will be seating, inside and outside, including two long counters with stools, where patrons can sit and eat. He expects to sell beer and wine.
Mele does not yet know how many people he will be permitted to seat in the deli, but estimates the capacity at 45.
He plans to close the doors at 10 or 11 p.m. nightly.
While construction proceeds, Mele is negotiating with potential suppliers. Some are local, like Bella Napoli bakery and the Cookie Factory. Others are in Italy, and still others are in New York City.