When Frank N. Cardullo first opened the doors of 6 Brattle Street in 1950, he had little idea that the store that he conceptualized and built from the ground up would one day be one of the best recognized businesses and community members in Harvard Square over 60 years later.
An immigrant from Messina, Italy, Frank had spent much of his younger years working with food at his father's restaurant, in a meat market or at a grocery store. Thus it was little surprise that despite his busy schedule running the Wursthaus restaurant, which he took over in 1942, he wanted to open a store for the local residents and visiting international students that the area's universities attract; a longing for a piece of home, or a taste of familiarity and nostalgia they simply couldn't find anywhere else .
Seeing their frustration, Frank became dedicated to finding ways to bring these beloved treats from around the world into the square. On April 1st, 1950, Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe opened its doors for the first time and has been an institution in the neighborhood ever since.
Although the Shoppe struggled initially, together with his wife, Mary, Frank endured and refused to change his original mission: to provide the finest in fancy and specialty foods, beverages and quality deli products and sandwiches. Eventually, with patience, a changing social consciousness towards food and a little ingenuity, Frank saw customers streaming in and watched the store grow to its current size. Over time, Frank became an icon in the area and was often referred to as the “unofficial mayor of Cambridge”, emphasizing the sense of community in the Square through some of his lasting contributions, including the Oktoberfest celebrations.
After over thirty years at the helm, Frank retired and passed Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe onto his eldest son, Frank R. Cardullo, in 1991.
Frank was an accomplished pilot and avid photographer, who saw the world from a different perspective and immediately went to work creating a Shoppe that would better reflect the changing times, the modern food trends and the new and unusual food cravings of a new batch of Cambridge foodies.
Much like his father, Frank also became a Cambridge icon with his gregarious personality. Well-known for his seemingly endless energy, dedication to the store and appreciation for family tradition, many in the area respected his commitment to make Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe more than a store but an active neighbor in the Square.
Over the years, Frank's generous spirit and desire to always lend a hand helped create a greater sense of community in Harvard Square. As a die-hard fan of the Boston Red Sox, Frank placed a television in the storefront window to screen games for passersby, customers and neighborhood fans—a tradition that continues to this day.
For nearly 18 years, Frank (or as he was known in his later years, Frances), created a local destination for foodies, grew the gift basket business and expanded the international offerings, further solidifying the Shoppe’s reputation as an institution in the Square before entrusting it to a third generation of Cardullos in 2008. Frances R. Cardullo passed away in early 2009.
Since assuming ownership of the Shoppe, Donez Cardullo Tavilla, Francesca Cardullo Sibble and Francis P. Cardullo, have already made sweeping changes to the store, hoping to not only honor the vision originally created by their grandfather in 1950, but to also continue the neighborhood traditions begun by their own father since 1991 while bringing the Shoppe into the 21st century.