Sunday, May 06, 2018

Waterbury's Frank Pepe

There's more to the Frank Pepe name than pizza. In 1910, Frank Pepe was the name of a successful grocery business in Waterbury.

Frank Pepe advertisement, Waterbury Republican, 10 May 1911
(Silas Bronson Library microfilm)

 Waterbury's Frank Pepe, born in 1873, was the son of Rachele Russo and Donato Pepe of Scafati, Italy, close to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.  The Frank Pepe of pizza fame was born twenty years later in Maiori, about 18 miles from Scafati.

Waterbury's Frank Pepe and his brother Antonio immigrated to New Haven, where Frank eventually found work at a grocery store. Frank and Antonio were followed by their brother Joseph, who left Italy in 1892 when he was 13, which was then considered old enough to leave home on your own.

Frank left New Haven for Waterbury in 1890 and was joined two years later by Joseph. Antonio stayed in New Haven and started up a grocery wholesale and import business.

Frank started up a Waterbury-based grocery wholesale and import business. Joseph worked for him for fourteen years before starting up his own business, in 1905, selling hay, grain, and feed wholesale. Both brothers were highly successful with their businesses.

Frank Pepe started his grocery business on Bank Street, then moved to Meadow Street. In 1896, he built a large brick block building at 44 and 46 Canal Street. His business quickly outgrew this space, and a second building was constructed at 40 Canal Street.

Frank Pepe and his family lived on Chestnut Avenue until at least 1940. His wholesale grocery business was incorporated, with his son, Frank Jr., as president. They later lived on Country Club Road and Thrushwood Place.

Frank Sr. was also associated with The Morris Plan Bank of Waterbury, serving as vice president during the late 1940s.

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