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New owners of Sweeney’s signify end of an era

Bronx Times
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It’s the end of an era at a long-time mom and pop grocery store.

Sweeney’s Deli, a neighborhood grocery store located at 3136 Miles Avenue, outside Edgewater Park, is beginning a new era after the store’s previous owners sold, after running the business for nearly four decades.

The store, which is now called Sweeney’s Mini Mart, was purchased by Paul and Imelda ‘Mimi’ Sweeney in 1977, 11 years after the couple was married.

They eventually expanded the market into the neighboring storefronts, previously occupied by a candy store, a produce store and a barbershop, while Paul continued to act as the owner of the grocery store.

Over the years, especially during the holiday seasons, the store was well stocked with a wide selection and variety of food items, such as bread, rolls, donuts, cakes, coffee and hot chocolate, to name a few.

An iconic Leprechaun was one of the store’s eye-catching decorations.

The store’s wall of candy was also very popular among regular customers, especially children.

“I was always excited to make those bags of candy when I younger,” said Alessandra Biagioni, Paul and Imelda’ granddaughter, who was in the store by age 3.

She helped stock groceries on shelves while standing on top of a milk carton’ she recalled

“There was a special homeyness feeling to the stores - my grandparents always treated the customers like family and they always knew everybody’s name - just like Cheers. “They were certainly a staple in the community.”

The store also offered its own line of credit, which customers could pay off when they got paid.

As a result of the store’s increasing success, many local residents and families began depending and relying on Sweeney’s for their weekly and even daily shopping purchases.

After more than three and a half decades of operating the business, Paul retired and moved down to Florida, while Imelda continued to work as a store cashier and clerk.

About a year and a half later, Imelda traveled to Florida and joined Paul in retirement.

They sold the store to new owners in late October, who renovated the store and slightly changed the name from ‘Sweeney’s Deli’ to ‘Sweeney’s Mini Mart’, preserving the family name to show respect to the previous owners.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Cathy DeLuca, an employee of Sweeney’s for the last two and a half years. “Paul and Imelda were a very important part of the neighborhood with their business and everybody knew who they were - so it’s sad to see them leave after such a long, successful history but I am proud of everything they accomplished and their retirement is well deserved.”

“In addition - I wish the new owners the very best of luck, of course,” Cathy added.

“This was a neighborhood-based grocery store that I believe all customers took a liking to because we treated every customer like family - and they were,” said Paul Sweeney. “I feel privileged to have been a part of a business that was so special and brought everybody in the neighborhood together.”

“When customers were in the store, it felt like a family gathering -especially during the holidays,” said Mimi. “I miss the store, I miss the neighborhood, I miss the customers - but we are certainly thankful for every connection we made and we wish the new owners all the best in success.”

The new owners of the store did not want to be included in the article.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 260-4599. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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