The New York Fruit Store

By Joseph Louis M. Bertorelli

(From information obtained for the Centennial Committee, Danielson, Connecticut, November 25, 1953.)

In 1894 when the store was established, fruit and produce was shipped directly from New York City by barge to New London. There it was transferred to railroad cars and shipped to Danielson.

There was an expression, years ago, "Just like New York." Many people from foreign lands came to find better living in America, the great land of promise. At one time or another these people passed through the great portals at New York City. To them it was the essence and the ultimate, the very best. Thus the expression, "Just like New York" came to mean the very best. So the name New York Fruit Store originated. It was first named New York Fruit Company and Candy Kitchen.

The Phoenix Building Company bought land at 107 Main Street, Danielson, on October 10 1890. In 1894 the present Phoenix Building was completed. That was the same year the New York Fruit Store was established to supply the people of Danielson and the surrounding towns with groceries, fruit, homemade candy and ice cream, tobacco and cigarettes and an occasional plug of chewing tobacco. It is believed that in 1894 Longo's and the New York Fruit Store were the sole fruit establishments in the town of Danielson.

The co-founders were Manuchelli and Bertorelli, both from Bardi, Italy. Manuchelli was a candy maker and Bertorelli was the ice cream maker. In 1913 they were succeeded by Mary Salotti from Genoa, Italy. Joe Cristina and Louis Bertorelli of Bardi Italy, became partners in 1924. Louis came to the United States in 1913 and spent a short time in New York before coming to Danielson to help his uncle. Since 1928 Louis Bertorelli has been sole owner.

The New York Fruit Store was the first concern to make candy and ice cream on the premises in Danielson. They also used to make ice cream for the Brooklyn Fair Grounds and Alexander's Lake. Over 100 gallons daily were sold at the Brooklyn Fair Grounds. In the days of the horse and buggy the ice cream was made with a gasoline engine.

During many weeks in advance of the Christmas season clerks were kept busy making candy canes, ribbon candy, etc. for the holidays. There was a ritual which for years was kept almost as a sacred observance. While in the process of candy making for the Christmas season, the management always made a practice of making a huge candy cane weighing about 15 pounds. This was presented to the Catholic Sisters of St. James Parish. It was called "St. Nicholas' Staff." Our name for Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas, a Catholic bishop of Myra in Lycia, Asia Minor. Symbolic of his office was his staff or crozier.

Louis Bertorelli, the present owner, first started working in the New York Fruit Store 41 years ago in 1913. For 30 years or more he has been on the job without loss of a single day's work and the workweek is a 7-day week.

To many of the young people of the town the store was only known as "Louie's" and was famous for its penny candy and "black cows."