With a simple “Good night everyone, goodbye!!” Facebook post, the Chimento family turned out the lights at Alcamo’s Market for the final time on Nov. 23.
Known for its mouthwatering sub sandwiches, groceries, and Italian delicacies, Alcamo’s was a must-stop in east Dearborn since 1972. Giovanni Chimento opened the store in its original home on Fort Street in Detroit in 1952 before moving it to 4423 Schaefer. He died in 2018.
In an exclusive final interview with the Press & Guide, Chimento’s daughter, Emily, said the time had come to, as she wrote in another post, “slow life down just a little.”
“It’s been great. So many wonderful years here, but we kind of all decided that, you know, I’d love to spend time with my family a little bit more,” she said. “I think it’s time to kind of just take a breath and kind of enjoy what we’ve created and sit back and observe things, and just kind of enjoy family just a little bit more than we’ve been able to.”
The store officially closed the day before Thanksgiving, but did reopen for a few days before Christmas for anyone interested in purchasing store fixtures and other equipment. Family recipes, however, were not for sale.
Tucked into an unassuming brick storefront just off Michigan Avenue, Alcamo’s provided visitors with a taste of the Old Country without obtaining a passport. The store sold house-made lasagna, sausage, and arancini, while familiar brand names like Barilla, Cento, and Lidia Bastianich filled its shelves.
Alcamo’s also featured a large selection of wine and olive oil, as well as refrigerated and frozen food, an olive bar, coffee and tea, and other staples. Visitors from around the corner and around the country would stock up for holiday get-togethers or to satisfy their daily cravings from the one-of-a-kind market.
Without a doubt, customers had a decades-long love affair with Alcamo’s deli counter. Stretching the entire north wall of the store, the eye candy included imported cheeses, salads, steaks, chops, and prepared food. It’s here where Alcamo’s legendary sub sandwiches were made from select deli meats and cheeses piled high into soft buns.
While Alcamo’s closing was a sad occasion for its legions of fans, it was also a time to celebrate the Chimento family’s longevity and accomplishments. Many of them who grew to be more than customers flooded the store during its final days to reminisce, hug each other, and buy one last sandwich or pound of sausage.
Chimento and her family will miss the customer interaction, but not the 14-hour workdays. She’s looking forward to traveling with her daughter, singer-songwriter Anissa Lea, who is another familiar face to Alcamo’s customers.
“I think more than anything, we’ve worked as a family, but it was a team,” Lea said. “And we all worked together because we loved what we did and we cherished every moment we had in this place.”
The next chapter in the Chimento family’s history has yet to be written, but one thing is for certain: they will not forget their past.
“We’re definitely a destination spot for a lot of customers, for traditions, for memories and generations, and I just want to thank all the wonderful people who have shared their stories with us on Facebook,” Chimento said. “Please continue to post your stories on our Facebook page because the Facebook page will be a part of history.”