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Calabria Imports

Pat Roberto

Pat Roberto

When a young man works behind a deli at age 15, does he dream one day of owning it? Pat Roberto did.

Most high schoolers work evenings, weekend and summers mowing lawns, babysitting or painting homes. But Roberto’s part-time job blended his Italian heritage with his quest for the future.

“I had jobs here and there at Calabria Imports,” describes Roberto. “I always had the time in the summer to work at the store behind the deli, as a stock boy or a cashier. I grew up in it.”

Spending the majority of his extracurricular life at Calabria Imports set the gears in motion.

“One of my goals was to have my own business,” adds Roberto. “In college, I received a degree in business administration. It’s helped me here.”

Right out of college, Roberto put his business degree to work. He resumed working at Calabria Imports as a store manager and, in a few short years, he was offered a 25 percent stake in the business at the tender age of 25. A few years later, he bought out the original owner and now is the proud sole owner of the Italian store and deli.

Roberto incorporates his passion for his mom’s cooking into his business model. “When you grow up in an Italian household, your mom is always cooking,” Roberto explains. “You have a passion for creating dishes and being around people.”

Located in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago, Calabria Imports is an oasis of italianità, offering a variety of fresh salads, sandwiches and other specialty dishes, as well as quality deli meats and imported grocery items.

Calabria Imports is known for its carryout and catering, where his mother’s influence shine through. Both his parents are from the Avellino in Italy, west of Naples. Roberto’s mom makes a variety of the salads and other take-out delicacies. Keeping it all in the family, Roberto’s father, wife and daughters are integral parts of the customer-friendly staff.

“I’m blessed with a good staff that helps me out,” adds Roberto. “They’ve been with me for a while and we all have developed good relationships with our customers.”

Roberto enjoys his long-time location on 103rd near Longwood in Chicago, and is banking on his new location on 95th Street in Evergreen Park will attract the same loyal customer based that the original Beverly store has known for so long.

“It’s all about consistency,” says Roberto.

Calabria Imports is located at 1905 W. 103rd St. in Chicago (773-396-5800) and 3512 W 95th St. in Evergreen Park (708-425-3880). For details, visit www.calabria-imports.com.

About Lissa Druss

Lissa Druss is founder and CEO of Strategia Consulting, a government relations and business relations and crisis communication firm. She is a regular contributor on television and radio stations, offering perspective on crisis events and public affairs issues. She spent 21 years as a television journalist and is a nine-time Emmy award winner. She holds the title of Cavaliere dell’ Ordine della Stella d’Italia; serves on the boards of Milan-Chicago Sister Cities International, the Get Growing Foundation and the Italian American Human Relations Foundation, and is chairman of the Jarrett Payton Foundation. She works with the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii and the JCCIA, and is a member of the National Italian American Foundation.