Caruso’s Italian Imports finds new life with new owner

By Lyndsey D’Arcangelo

Erik Hoertz has always dreamed of owning his own business. Last spring, when the opportunity to purchase Caruso’s Italian Imports and Deli came up, he jumped at the chance. Now his dream is a reality and he loves every minute of it.

“I spent 15 years working in corporate America,” Hoertz says. “I’m just excited to have this opportunity.”

Before reopening last summer, Hoertz didn’t make any major changes to the store as a whole. He understood that Caruso’s has a long and storied tradition in the Hertel neighborhood, and he wanted longtime customers to continue to shop for the same great products they had grown accustomed to buying.

“The store has always had fantastic fresh cold cuts, imported cheeses, daily fresh bread, produce and other Italian groceries at great prices,” he explains. “This is what the store was about, and I didn’t want to change that.”

However, in order to attract some new customers, Hoertz did add a few new products to shelves and deli, including Boar’s Head deli meats, a mouthwatering assortment of Italian cookies, Shelburne Farms cheese from Vermont, and Americo’s fresh mozzarella — which is made locally in Buffalo. He also added some new and exciting offerings such as cold deli sandwiches made to order, freshly made cheese plates, and hot cups of espresso. Aside from some “light” remodeling, which involved putting in a new floor, adding fresh paint and fixing areas of the ceiling, Hoertz is confident that the store looks and feels like the same old Caruso’s.

Customers seem to agree. “There’s a brighter and fresher new look to the store,” one person says. “I like the new items and of course, the free samples!”

It’s been a little over six months since Hoertz reopened Caruso’s doors, and he couldn’t be happier with how things have progressed. “The holiday season went really well, and we are in a great position to grow even more as a neighborhood deli and market staple.”

This summer, Hoertz plans to expand Caruso’s product lines even more. He says he’s interested in what customers want, and he’s willing to listen to all requests. A new website will be also launched soon. As for the store itself, you might notice some freshly planted vegetable, herb and flower boxes out front as you walk by on a bright sunny day.

Why not stop in and say hello? The store is located at 1212 Hertel Ave. in Buffalo. You can also visit Caruso’s on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carusosimports.

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