The Broadway Market closed Thursday, Dec. 30—unless owner Alfredo Cipolato opened the Missoula fixture, at the corner of Broadway and Madison Avenue, one last time Friday, as his daughter Helen Cipolato suspected Tuesday he might. At any rate, the 47-year-old deli and provider of specialty Italian foods will not be open for business in 2005.
Tuesday, two days before the store’s scheduled closing, a dozen people milled inside. Katie Van Dorn, a local real estate agent and a 23-year regular, waited in line holding a three-liter tin of olive oil and a bottle of wine. She’ll miss the atmosphere most, she says. But she’ll miss the merchandise, too.
“He always had such a neat, eclectic collection of wines,” she says, pointing with a bottle of Syrah to the wine shelves.
Many customers have been coming through the store to say goodbyes, says Helen. Italians, she says, have been arriving to stock up on the big blue bottles of Brioschi—“It’s Alka-Seltzer for Italians.” Alfredo’s wife Anna Cipolato, 90, is happy to retire.
“I’ve worked ever since I was a little girl,” she says. “I’m just tired.” While she enjoyed the public, working with people day in and day out, she says, “takes a little out of you.”
Both, though, turned customers to friends. A framed handwritten letter penned in a youngster’s bubbly cursive hangs above the cash register. It’s dated March 20, 1967: “I used to pick dandelions and took them to this man’s store and he gave me penny candy…He whistles when he works.”
Today, Alfredo, 93, is not whistling. He surveys the store from behind the counter, surrounded by wine and posters of Italy and his Venice hometown. There is no merchandise left to sell, he observes. Is he complaining or celebrating? “I don’t know.”
A woman in a bright pink coat approaches the counter: “You guys used to know my grandfather.”