In these days of giant food markets offering all manner of international foods, there is a grocery store in the Belmont section of the Bronx called Teitel Brothers. Situated in the neighborhood of Little Italy, the store is an integral part of the community and has been so for more than a century. When you enter the store, you will find the finest imported cooking ingredients, including unfiltered Sicilian olive oil, a dizzying array of olives, pastas, the finest Parmigiano Reggiano cheese imaginable and that does not even begin to scratch the surface.
The story of the Teitel Brothers’ store in the Bronx goes back to 1915, when Jacob and Morris Teitel opened their deli business on the corner of Arthur Avenue and 186th Street with the objective of offering a variety of the finest products at the lowest prices. Every morning, the brothers would build a veritable wall of products with barrels of nuts, beans and baccala marking the periphery of their store as they began their 18-hour day. Across the street was a stable where their horse and wagon was kept when not delivering groceries across the cobblestone streets of the Bronx.
Through the 1920s and 30s, the business established itself in the thriving neighborhood. As his sons grew, one by one, Jacob recruited them to work behind the deli counter. Eventually, the three – Louis, Ben and Gilbert juggled school and full-time work there. Louis and Ben attended medical school before being drafted into the Army in 1943. When they returned from the service, they hung up their lab coats to run the deli.
In the early 1950s, Gilbert, the youngest, completed his college degree at night and helped the family expand into the wholesale business. The hard work and long hours paid off and now decades later, many of the local restaurants continue to rely on Teitel Brothers for their olive oil, flour, cheeses and many other specialty items.
Eddie Teitel is now the third generation of the family running the business and as it has entered its second century, the store remains well-known for excellent prices for exceptional products. The simple recipe for success envisioned more than 100 years ago has created a bond with the Italian neighborhood and has made Teitel Brothers not only a staple of life in the Bronx’s Little Italy, but a beloved part of the community as well.