When Danny and Joe Di Bruno opened a small corner store in Philadelphia’s Italian Market in 1939, they offered a lot more than groceries. They offered a place for the neighborhood to gather together and celebrate food, family and friendship.
Since then and even more today, we have been a diversified specialty food enterprise where the values of family and community are still a driving priority. Di Bruno Bros. is one of the founding families that has helped turn Philadelphia into a world-class food destination while fostering a sense of community and relationships among the city’s residents.
Today, Di Bruno Bros. has grown from a little shop on 9th Street to an enterprise with five retail locations and full service catering, commissary, wholesale and e-commerce divisions. As a part of the fabric of Philadelphia, we have customized each location to fit the needs of the neighborhood and its residents. In 2005, Di Bruno Bros. expanded to Center City, providing the area with the ultimate specialty store. Just three years later, the Comcast Center opened and asked Di Bruno Bros. to be the anchor tenant in Philadelphia’s newest and tallest building. In 2011, Di Bruno Bros. expanded to the Main Line and quickly became the largest and most diverse tenant at the Ardmore Farmer’s Market. Just two years later, we opened in the Franklin and are helping to revitalize the historic Franklin House and surrounding neighborhood.
All of our shops aim to contribute to the areas’ economic growth and serve as a world-class food resource. Our goal is always to inject that sense of vigor and vitality into each neighborhood and foster that same sense of community that Danny and Joe first created in the Italian Market.
Di Bruno Bros. started as a corner grocery store before being transformed into the House of Cheese in the mid-60s after Danny’s vacation to Switzerland. There he sampled a 200 pound wheel of Gruyere and returned determined to bring “food as entertainment” to the City of Philadelphia. All he needed to do was give customers a taste. With the rise of the supermarket and mass retailers, Danny and Joe carved out a spot in their customers’ hearts with their camaraderie and the experience their store offered.
When cousins Emilio, Bill Jr., and Billy took over, they learned all they could from Danny and Joe, the aunts and uncles, and the community of lifelong Di Bruno customers. After a few years of learning the business, the cousins started to explore new products of their own.
“No matter what we sell, we have to love it and believe in it,” says Emilio. “Our aunts would never feed us something they didn’t think was delicious. And it has to be exciting, too. We want our customers to feel the same sense of discovery that we do when we’re out searching for these products.”
The new owners were inspired to learn more, do more and grow their selection. There was no internet, so learning about new and foreign cheeses and products was a word of mouth affair. When customers craved unique food experiences, Emilio became their go-to culinary expert, which inspired him to grow both the store selection and his own knowledge. Customers could hear and feel the passion in his voice when he spoke about products. As time went on, our palates developed, and our customers’ palates developed as a result. And boy, did they. Emilio and his team of cheesemongers took The House of Cheese from 50 cheeses to over 600 that we sell today.
We take our position as the city’s leading merchant of artisanal food seriously, which is why we have an entire division devoted to exploring the rapidly-expanding world of fine foods.
Di Bruno Bros. leadership is actively involved in various local and national organizations including the National Association of Specialty Food Retailers, Retailers Network Council, American Cheese Society and the United Merchants of S. 9th Street Business Association.
Di Bruno Bros. has also worked with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce throughout the years, which dedicates itself to regional economic growth, just as Di Bruno Bros. has done.
“Our family has been celebrating great food with the great people of Philadelphia for the better part of a century, and that commitment to investing in and serving our neighborhoods has made us an integral part of the fabric of the community.” —Bill Jr.
To honor our 75th year, we are celebrating in a variety of ways. Most notably, we are raising $75,000 for the St. James School Neighborhood Kitchen. Throughout the Spring and Summer, we will host a series of fundraisers with the goal of founding and supporting a community kitchen at the St. James School in the Allegheny West section of Philadelphia, providing meals to needy students and families while simultaneously educating students about nutrition and culinary arts.
Di Bruno Bros. has also been involved with other charities throughout the years including Ronald McDonald House, Alex’s Lemonade Stand and Little Smiles to name a few.
We are proud to give back to the city that’s given so much to us.
What started as an Italian, community-focused corner store with a just a handful of family members, has evolved into a multi-million dollar enterprise with over 350 team members. Our success isn’t something we take lightly.
Seventy-five years later, third generation family owners, William Mignucci Jr., Emilio Mignucci and William Mignucci hold the legacy of Danny and Joe, the city of Philadelphia and culinary pioneering close to their hearts.
Philly is a very loyal city—especially when it comes to its food, sports, history and identity. As a business owner in Philadelphia, that’s something you have to understand—Danny and Joe knew that from the very beginning. They never underestimated this city or took it for granted, and that is a legacy we are proud to continue.