by Andrew Rudansky
Conventional wisdom says there is no treading water in business; if a business is not moving forward then it is necessarily falling behind. For a model of sustained growth in our own community you don’t have to look further than Cavaniola’s in Sag Harbor.
Since opening the doors to their first cheese shop at 89 Division Street in 2004, Michael and Tracey Cavaniola have had a history of consistent expansion. This in turn has led to an increase in products, employees, floor space and profits over the years.
First expanding in 2007, the couple took over the building adjacent to their cheese shop to open a wine store called Cavaniola’s Cellar. Two years later they expanded once again, moving into another adjacent store front to open up Cavaniola’s Kitchen, a gourmet deli.
The small Cavaniola’s market at Division Street now can boast a wide array of products for the consummate foodie. With its simple paninis and fine European cheeses Cavaniola’s has attracted a loyal following of return customers.
The latest expansion for Michael and Tracey Cavaniola will also be the Cavaniola’s first departure from Sag Harbor, as the couple plan on opening up a new cheese shop in Manhattan.
The shop, to open this August, will be one of several businesses that will join together to create a collective market located in Tribeca on 102 Franklin Street, between West Broadway and Church Street.
“From what I am hearing about it from my customer base, a lot of them are coming from the city, they are all very excited about it,” said Cavaniola. “They all agree that there isn’t a lot of places like this in Tribeca.”
Called All Good Things, the planned European-style market in Tribeca will cater to a more discerning New Yorker pallet.
Among the other stores that will be represented at the market are Orwasher’s Bakery, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Blue Bottle Coffee Shop and Nunu Chocolates. Similar to the Sag Harbor cheese shop, each of the independent food purveyors focus on a specialized gourmet market.
All of the participating purveyors have signed a trial, open ended one-year lease, with the option of a five-year extension plan.
The Franklin Street location is a 2,200 square foot building set up in the style of a European market, with individual vendors occupying sections of the floor plan.
Cavaniola’s will occupy a 175 square-ft. section of the market, offering their cheeses. Micahel Cavaniola said that customers familiar with the Sag Harbor market will find the Tribeca store familiar, as the selection, displays, and even the west-facing counter will be the same in both locations.
Michael and Tracey Cavaniola stock the shelves of their Sag Harbor cheese shop with cheese from around the world, the vast majority of it being handmade. They said that their commitment to independent dairy farmers would also be true for the new Tribeca shop.
A son of cheesemongers, Michael Cavaniola has been selling cheeses since he was a child.
“With the food here, all of the food, we have always tried to basically keep it simple, nothing fancy,” said Michael Cavaniola.
With Manhattan’s notoriously high rent costs, and prohibitively competitive food services industry, small businesses such as Cavaniola have had to find creative ways of opening up shop in the city.
Joining a cooperative market, like All Good Things, allowed Michael and Tracey to get into the cty reasonably.
“This market idea is a very economical way of getting into Manhattan,” said Cavaniola.
He said that simply belonging to a market like All Good Things could also lead to increased profits for all the businesses involved. Potential customers could walk in looking for a cup of coffee at one vendor, only to leave the market with products from several of the businesses.
“We have to make sure that this arrangement works for everybody,” said Cavaniola.
According to the owners the fourth addition to the Cavaniola’s brand is by no means the last. Michael Cavaniola said he has no plan to stop the growth of his business any time soon.
“By the time I am 55, I plan on franchising this business out,” he said.