Community built at Amici Market helped overcome challenges
Updated: Apr 19
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Amici Market is a staple on Palm Beach Island because of its wide variety of goods and atmosphere, but these often mask the challenges behind the scenes.
Maurizio Ciminella, the owner of the gourmet specialty grocer, explained life during the pandemic and how the established community kept it alive.
Ciminella explains that there will always be curveballs, it’s part of life and running a business, but you have to be able to adjust.
“Covid was very tough. The stress was enormous, but we coped with it,” Maurizio stated. “I think a year and a half into it, I lost 15 to 20 employees.”
Amici was no exception to businesses being hit hard by the pandemic.
Behind the scenes, there are challenging aspects in the production layer of the business, especially when it comes to developing new products.
“Production behind the scenes can be challenging because we have a philosophy, an idea, and this idea has to be developed and not everything works perfectly, especially when you have people working together from other countries and different ways of seeing things,'' Ciminella explained.
As Ciminella puts it, “try to do something that keeps you happy but don’t think it’s going to be sugar all day long.”
When it comes to overcoming the challenges, it’s the community that has been built over the years that has kept everything running smoothly.
Amici is a second-generation family-operated business that is celebrating its 11th year of business this month.
Ciminella opened Amici the restaurant in 1994, which eventually evolved into Amici the Market.
Ciminella’s past restaurant expertise would prove to be beneficial in this venture.
As Ciminella puts it, “friendship on a plate” encapsulates the goal Amici attempts to fulfill with customers on a daily basis.
It is that community that has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the venture.
Another rewarding element is the interest displayed by the customers, and their desire to find out about the new products and ideas that are being developed behind the scenes.
He loves the discussions he has with customers about particular recipes or the mushroom he tested when he was in Europe.
The willingness of his wife and kids to always help and support him, especially when he’s in his low, is one of his favorite memories.
The countless names of well-known regulars reaffirm the community at Amici.
This included Minnie Pulitzer, daughter of Lily Pulitzer; Charles Lamoyeux, a top lawyer in the state of Florida; and Sylvester Stalone, Rocky star. Chef Jeff, a private house chef for a billionaire family on the Island, was spotted as well picking up fresh ingredients for his meals.
The store’s location is crucial to its success as well.
“We are very lucky we have the church right there,” Maurizio said. “We have two synagogues...It’s been good for us. It’s exposing us to different groups of people. We embrace everyone all the time.”
Palm Beach Island has a lot of history as well. Maurizio added while pointing at the church across the street, “John F. Kennedy went to this church and had breakfast next door at Green’s Pharmacy.” Maurizio also added that while deciding on his opening hours, he talked to a priest stating that he told him “you have the favor Monday through Saturday, Sunday is a big day with your family...it was a handshake and understood...that’s how we started it.”
Ciminella brought the close-knit Palm Beach community together at his store.
Maurizio didn’t forget to mention what happens when you visit Amici.
“With Amici, you always get something back.”
By: Aaron Heckmann and Jordan Wolfe