by Larry Austin
The Grand Island Market is enjoying a honeymoon in the first week of operation since the marriage of the store with Marco's Italian Deli.
The first week of business for Marco's Italian Deli was marked Sunday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the market, located at 1441 Ransom Road.
"It's a perfect marriage between both businesses, and we're doing really well with it," said Mark Sciortino, owner of the deli franchise.
The marriage between Sciortino's Marco's Italian Deli and Chuck Rizzo's Grand Island Market blossomed thanks to another Island businessman, Angelo Grande of Rhino-Tees Custom Apparel and the Charging Rhinos Soccer Academy on Whitehaven Road. Grande did apparel work for Rizzo's business, and Sciortino, a soccer coach, trains at Grande's soccer facility. Sciortino said Grande mentioned that Rizzo needed someone to take over the food service at the Grand Island Market.
Grande called himself "a huge fan" of Marco's Italian Deli and played matchmaker between Sciortino and Rizzo when the first food service business at the Grand Island Market didn't work out. Grande said Rizzo was looking at standard national franchises to move into the market, "and I don't think that would have worked well for him. So I set up a meeting."
Grande introduced the two at the Grand Island Market six weeks ago. "And from there, here we are," Grande said. "Oh, I'm thrilled for both of them because they're such great people. The food is fantastic, and Chuck needed something to propel him forward."
At the ribbon-cutting event, Rizzo thanked Grande for introducing them.
"I will owe Angelo for the rest of my life free sangwiches for introducing us," he said. "It's great to have them all here and we're proud to have Marco's Deli as part of the Grand Island Market."
Nick Tollar Jr., Sciortino's business partner and nephew, said the GI location will sell "anything that you can find at one of our other Marco's Italian Delis" located on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, Maple Road in Amherst and Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. Islanders can now have the distinctive Marco's "sangwiches," as well as paninis and cold cuts, said Tollar Jr. The GI deli will also have pizzas and do catering.
"We're very excited to be part of the Grand Island Market," Sciortino said before his daughters Gabriella and Maria cut the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce's ceremonial red ribbon. "Thank you to my nephew, who's been an absolute rock training the staff. The staff has been amazing. You guys have really done a great job."
"We hope you enjoy this project as much as we have," Sciortino told the dozens of people who packed the market for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The attendance at the ribbon-cutting event mirrors the early success the deli has enjoyed in its first week of operation, Sciortino said, calling it "Absolutely a reflection of the response that the neighborhood, the community, everybody has put together around us being here, and just embracing it, hugging us, taking it and making us part of their own. This has just been awesome."
Rizzo said an appeal of the Marco's brand is Sciortino's "diverse menu that, while not complicated, gives our customers enough variety to choose from."
Rizzo called the deli "a change for the better."
"The food's good," Rizzo said. "And that's something we sorely needed. I'm not a food service professional. Chef Marco is."