The owner of Latina's markets is selling his Clarence grocery to Joe Dash, a third-generation grocer now expanding his new small, upscale style supermarkets -- with fresh sushi, beef aging in cases and florists ready to make bouquets.
"We're just a little company growing with baby steps," said Dash of what will soon be his fourth Dash's Market.
The sale, for an undisclosed price, is expected to close next month.
For Chuck Marazzo, president of the Latina Niagara Importing Co., it is part of his own shift to focus back on his wholesale business and the 1,500 restaurant and pizzeria clients from Syracuse to Youngstown. Even so, he said does not plan to sell the rest of his three Latina's, all opened within the past two years, on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, and in Batavia and Orchard Park.
"I just want to make sure our resources are in the right spots," Marazzo said, before explaining the Clarence sale. "It was a real estate deal. The landlord wanted to sell the property . . . Joe was interested. I just felt he has the right marketing program for that area."
Dash, the grandson of the couple who founded the first, now defunct Dash's market on Fillmore Avenue in 1923, wanted the Main Street spot in Clarence so he can continue to build on his modern grocery model. For the past four years he has been developing a small, upscale grocery store approach at his three local Dash's Markets -- with help from his director of operations Mark Mahoney.
While the Dash's on Hertel Avenue is the oldest and without any recent remodeling, the two other stores have the new features Dash plans for Clarence. "It's going to need a major remodel inside and out," he said.
The Dash's stores on West Klein Road in East Amherst and Colvin Boulevard in Kenmore were designed to appeal to middle and upper income families: They feature compact space for faster shopping trips. Expanded natural and organic food sections, florists and cases of fresh cut flowers, cafes that sell the local Spot brand of coffee, artisan-style bread made in collaboration by the Le Metro bakery, fresh sushi rolls, a kitchen staff preparing ready-to-eat dinners and cases where beef is aged so the meat is tender.
"We're a niche marketer that is targeting our stores for a busy household. They're smaller, but they're not conventional," said Dash. "We fill a void that's out there in the market. That's our success and that's going to continue to be our success."
His family once owned stores called B-Kwik, the former name of the Dash's on Hertel, and then owned some franchised Tops supermarkets.
Five years ago Dash sold the Tops stores back to the corporate parent. Four years ago he revived the original name for his grandparents' first grocery. "Dash's is an easy name to remember," Dash said. "It comes off the tongue pretty easy."
Marazzo said he has no intention of selling the three remaining Latina's grocery stores. The one in Batavia opened five months ago. Orchard Park's is about a year old.
The Elmwood Avenue Latina's in Buffalo was his first, opening inside a defunct Quality Market about two years ago. "It's OK," he said. "Sales are growing every month."