Thursday, January 26, 2012

Spataro's Founder Dies, 94

Original 'Buttermilk' sign at old Spataro's
Domenic C. Spataro, who started the eponymous sandwich stall in the Reading Terminal Market in 1947, died overnight at the age of 94.

Mr. Spataro was "a legend of longevity at the Market, having worked here continuously since 1930 except for a military stint during World War II," wrote Paul Steinke, the market's general manager, in an email this morning to market followers.  He opened his own sandwich shop in the Market  in 1947, which continues in business to this day. "Up until the end, he had a near photographic memory of the Market and its people from the past 80+ years. His passion was his family and his work at the Market," wrote Steinke.

My first purchase at Spataro's -- in the early 1980s when they occupied a stall now housing Terralyn's Bath Body Spirit -- was lekvar, the Eastern European prune butter which they sold in bulk. But their specialty, loudly proclaimed on a sign that still stands at the original location, was buttermilk.

Spataro's had always been the home of an inexpensive lunch sandwich, simple stuff like cream cheese and jelly, priced for the lowly store clerk, not foodie. In more recent years the menu expanded, especially with the move about two years ago to center court and the addition of a grill for cheese steaks. The stall. operated by son Domenic, will soon move to the former Dinic's spot across Avenue C.

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