- New York-based Citarella has named grocery industry veteran Rich Durante as CEO, the specialty food retailer announced in a press release on Monday.
- Durante will head operations, merchandising and team development for all of Citarella’s seven locations in New York City, the Hamptons and Greenwich, Connecticut.
- The appointment brings an executive with substantial experience leading grocery store operations to Citarella, which has built a reputation for its selection of seafood, meat, prepared foods and desserts.
Citarella is bringing Durante aboard as the retailer looks to maintain its position in New York City's crowded grocery market, which counts a broad range of specialty food stores along with a number of regional and national chains.
Durante comes to Citarella from The Fresh Market, where he spent the past three years serving as chief merchandising officer for the 159-store chain based in North Carolina, per his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he worked as president and chief operating officer of Kings Foods Market and Balducci's Gourmet Food Markets, a pair of chains that became part of Albertsons following their parent company's bankruptcy last year.
Joe Gurrera who purchased Citarella in 1983, said he is looking to Durante to leverage his experience directing functions like merchandising, operations, marketing and engineering at larger grocery retailers in his new position running the New York City chain. Citarella recently lost its director of store operations to instant delivery startup 1520.
The retailer, which traces its roots to 1912, is looking to maintain its momentum against a backdrop of turbulence for specialty grocers that in 2020 forced several, including Lucky's Market, Earth Fare and Fairway Market, into bankruptcy. Despite offering unique shopping experiences and developing loyal customer bases, those retailers fall on hard times as they tried to scale their operations too quickly.
Beyond running its brick-and-mortar stores, Citarella is planning to begin selling seafood online to customers across the country, Gurrera said in the press release.
Durante's departure from The Fresh Market continues a string of changes in the company's executive ranks that followed its appointment of Jason Potter as CEO in March 2020. In the months following Potter's appointment, The Fresh Market hired a new chief marketing officer, senior vice president of store operations and general counsel.