Thursday, November 7, 2019

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Angelo's Supermarket

     Today on Cape Cod when one is in need of groceries there are many options, larger chains like Stop and Shop, Shaw’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Market Basket dominate the landscape while smaller local stores like Fancy’s Market, Friends’ Marketplace and Eastham Suprette also see their fair share of customers. In the past there have been other supermarkets that have come and gone like A&P. There is one regional chain that many Cape Codders of a certain age remember fondly and that is Angelo’s. Here is the story of that once major grocery chain.

     The story of Angelo’s Supermarket has its roots in a few well known names, Tedeschi and Daggett. In 1923 Angelo Tedeschi left his job as a finish cobbler in a shoe factory due to a severe bout of pneumonia. Needing to find a way to feed his family Tedeschi started his first business, a makeshift deli in his basement on Belmont Street in Rockland, Massachusetts where he delivered imported Italian meats and cheeses to local customers. Just after World War II in 1946 Angelo opened the first Tedeschi Supermarket on Market Street in Rockland. The chain of stores grew to number six by 1960 thanks to the hard work of Angelo’s sons William, Ralph, Robert, and Dominic. These included locations in Braintree, Brockton, Cohasset, Hanover, Hull, and Plymouth. Angelo and his sons had a simple yet profound strategy when it came to running their successful stores, listening to the customers and giving them what they wanted, rather than trying to force a corporate mandate on them.

     In 1961 the family sold their supermarkets to Stop and Shop who wished to expand their reach to Massachusetts’ South Shore. Ironically the Tedeschi’s sold the stores but kept ownership of the actually buildings, making them Stop & Shop’s landlords with Ralph Tedeschi becoming a vice president of Stop and Shop. Within two years the difference in philosophies was causing a rift. For one the Tedeschi’s liked offering nothing but national brands in their stores while Stop and Shop had a high focus on their own store brand products. The two companies parted ways in 1963 with Stop and Shop getting ownership of the Tedeschi Supermarket name as part of the agreement. The four Tedeschi brothers still wished to work in the grocery business though and thus needed to forge a new path.

One of the original Angelo's (not South Yarmouth)
Photo Courtesy of The Patriot Ledger

     In 1964 the Tedeschi’s bought one of the less successful stores from Stop and Shop in Holbrook, Massachusetts. They renamed it after their father and the first Angelo’s Supermarket was born. Part of the agreement in parting with Stop & Shop was a non-compete, so the Tedeschi’s looked for new horizons in which to open more Angelo’s. They found a perfect home on Cape Cod in South Yarmouth. They began the process of nailing down a location in May 1964. Initially the Tedeschi’s wished to purchase approximately four acres of land abutting the South Yarmouth Elementary School on Route 28 owned by Aletta Root. There was also the option of buying some land on Route 134 in South Dennis. In the end they decided to purchase another long-standing Cape Cod store, Daggett’s Market located on the north-side of Route 28 in South Yarmouth.

     Daggett’s Market had successfully been in business since 1930 on Main Street in Hyannis before moving to South Yarmouth in 1959. The Tedeschi’s officially closed Daggett’s Market on June 7, 1964. It was not the end for Daggett’s though as it took the empty space next door and opened Daggett’s liquor store which still is operating today.
Through tireless work the Tedeschi’s completely stripped Daggett’s Market and had it revamped and replenished with stock in only ten days. Angelo’s Supermarket opened to the public June 17th. The store was jammed with customers immediately with an added incentive of there being ten television sets given away to lucky shoppers. Angelo’s was a huge hit in South Yarmouth but the Tedeschi’s did not stop there.
An ad for Angelo's from the 1960's

     The following summer Angelo’s in South Yarmouth was enlarged while a third market was built on West Main Street in Hyannis at a cost of $400,000 ($3.2 million in 2019). From there it was off to the races for the new supermarket chain. Additional locations sprung up in Falmouth, Dennis Port, Sandwich, Orleans, and Harwich Port on Cape Cod. The Tedeschi’s reach expanded with the acquisition of the Curtis Food Stores chain in August 1972, converting nine supermarkets into the Angelo’s brand while keeping twenty-four convenience stores as-is.

     In March 1979 the Tedeschi’s bought Christy’s Market in Mashpee, it was converted into what would be the 18th Angelo’s Supermarket in Southeastern Massachusetts. By the mid-1980’s Angelo’s was the top grocery chain in Plymouth County and well known throughout Southeastern New England. The original Cape Cod location in South Yarmouth moved next door into a newly built 35,000-square-foot building in June 1984. The Tedeschi’s were riding high when they were made an offer they couldn’t refuse.

     In the fall of 1985 an offer was put in for the Angelo’s franchise by New Jersey-based Supermarkets General which owned the Purity Supreme and Heartland Food Stores chains of grocery stores. The sale was finalized on January 31, 1986 for $27.25 million ($63.8 million in 2019) but despite the ownership change Angelo’s kept its name and identity for the moment.

     Changes began coming though. On August 31, 1986 the Dennis Port Angelo’s was closed. Slowly but surely the Angelo’s name was replaced by Purity at the remaining locations including the first ever Cape Cod store in South Yarmouth. In a fitting piece of irony Purity was acquired by Stop and Shop in 1995.

The former South Yarmouth Angelo's, today an Ocean State Job Lot. 

     The Tedeschi family name lived on through a string of successful convenience stores, including the eventual purchase of competing chains Li’l Peach in 1996 and Store 24 in 2002. The number of stores would total 182 at their peak before 7-Eleven bought the Tedeschi chain in May 2015 with only a few Tedeschi still in operation in 2019.  

Though it has been nearly thirty years since the last Angelo’s Supermarket faded into time those of a certain age on Cape Cod and in Southeastern New England still look back with fond memories.

In Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Thomas Ridley & Cape Cod's Loneliest Grave                                   

Cape Cod Sunsets 2020 Calendar available at Zazzle here: Cape Cod Sunsets 2020

Be sure to check out my website: Christopher

My 5th book, Cape Cod Nights, is on sale at and through Arcadia Publishing

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