Santoni’s Super Market closed last week, ending an 83-year presence in Southeast Baltimore.
Joyce Adamski, president of the Southeast Police Community Relations Council, wanted to thank the grocery store and Bob Santoni Sr. for his generosity to her organization.
“Every time I called him because I was stuck for food, it was ‘Okay—I’ll donate a couple trays for sandwiches, or what is it that you need,’” Adamski said.
The Community Relations Council has several food-oriented activities throughout the year, including “Pies for the Guys,” a Christmas party for police officers, and a Thanksgiving food drive.
“He’s done a lot; he really has,” said Adamski. “There was a local family that lost their daughter in a fire. He gave us a gift certificate so that they could go in and buy groceries rather than have someone else decide what to give them.
For Pies for the Guys, she added, Santoni’s sold between 100 and 200 pies at a reduced price of $2 each, and that included delivery.
“I would call him and say, ‘Hey Bob, can you donate a ham for the officers for the Christmas party?’” added Adamski. “I got three Esskay hams that year.”
“He was very community oriented,” she said. “It was always ‘What do you want and when do you want to pick it up?’”
Few in Southeast Baltimore go as far back with Santoni’s Super Market as Father Luigi “Lou” Esposito, pastor of Our Lady of Pompei Church, at Claremont and Conkling since 1923.
“I knew all the Santonis,” said Esposito. “I remember the little Santoni’s shop, which is now a liquor store right across from the present Santoni’s.”
Esposito noted that Savino and Iolanda Santoni, who had the first Santoni’s store in their home, were good friends of his.
“They were doing very nicely,” he said, adding that he was present for the groundbreaking of the present Santoni’s Super Market plaza on Lombard St.
Esposito said that the large store benefitted Highlandtown.
“It helped enormously,” he said. “Having a big place like that is like a landmark. You couldn’t think of Highlandtown without thinking of Santoni’s. It had a nice parking lot and was within walking distance for a lot of people. It was a tremendous asset to the neighborhood.”
“Hopefully whoever takes over will remember to be part of the neighborhood, as Santoni’s was,” Esposito added.
Reached for comment last week, Rob Santoni Jr. stated that was continuing to talk to parties interested in purchasing the supermarket, and that it was “likely” that someone would indeed take over.
by Erik Zygmont