Bruno’s Fine Foods
An assortment of delectable deli delights is laid out beneath a glass case, tempting your palate. A lengthy counter holds nothing but the finest cuts of quality meat. Smells of the day’s special preparations fill the air while you shop. Bruno’s Fine Foods stands out in the marketplace—one visit and you definitely realize this is no regular grocery store. In a sea of impersonal big box stores, this Toronto-based chain of fine food stores has found a distinctive market niche with its speciality food selections and uniquely personalized service.
Bruno’s Fine Foods has become an iconic symbol of high-end quality in the Toronto area. What began as a single shop grew into a family owned-and-operated chain of seven popular fine food stores. It avoids the processed foods and toiletry items of big supermarkets and focuses on prepared fresh and local produce, as well as the fundamental kitchen cuisine staples such as olive oil, pasta and coffee.
Reigning the ready-to-go market
First and foremost, Bruno’s is known for its extraordinary meat counter, including its popular selection of ready-to-cook meats, roasts, turkeys and more. This prepared style of food—now common in grocery stores—was pioneered by Bruno’s. From prepared dishes such as lasagnes and quiches (both fresh and frozen), to specialty sides such as tomato and bocconcini salad or stuffed peppers, everything is prepared in-house, from food dishes, to marinades and sauces and more. This selection of freshly made, healthy food has become synonymous with the Bruno’s name.
Bruno’s has an extensive fresh produce section offering a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce section as well offers easy, ready-to-go solutions for its valued customers. Salads, for example, are washed, prepared and packaged daily, combining fresh greens into popular salad combinations. Vegetables of all sorts, both alone and into complementary mixtures, can be purchased washed, chopped and ready-to-go. For a busy metropolitan centre like Toronto, these types of products undoubtedly are a popular product.
The Bruno’s advantage
Bruno’s began as a meat shop and still today holds a reputation as being the reigning king of meat. Based on the “old time” idea of a community butcher shop, Bruno’s prides itself on offering a different, personal shopping experience. Mauro Mila, Vice-President, has worked with Bruno in the family business since childhood and explains how staff are expected to go above and beyond.
“We train our staff to be able to educate customers. For example, when you go to our meat counter, it’s not just some guy who hands it to you. He should be able to tell you what complements it, how to cook it, what goes well with it,” Mila explains. “We have chefs on staff, and we always have qualified experienced staff—even with part-timers, we will teach them what they need to know. That’s what we call the ‘Bruno’s advantage’, you get all that other stuff along with it.”
Mila’s own in-depth knowledge is evident, particularly within the meat realm. “Our meats always undergo a really good aging program. We don’t release anything unless it has been aged for six-to-eight weeks. By aging the meat the benefit is that you’re going to have minimal shrinkage. By drying out the waters and the fluids in the meat you get a better flavour, you don’t get that washed out taste, and it also breaks down the enzymes.” It is this kind of knowledge which is passed onto staff and, in turn, customers.
One successful portion of Bruno’s business that is perhaps lesser known is its wholesale meat sales, which is the responsibility of Mila. Bruno’s supplies many banquet halls and higher-end fine dining restaurants with its high quality meat products. “Basically with our wholesale we try to run it like our retail—we focus on quality and service.” Bruno’s uses only its own striploins and does not use any nitrates in its process, just one more factor attributing to the taste. Meat still accounts for the largest percentage of sales and Bruno’s still has a reputation for having, quite simple, incredible product.
Bruno’s has numerous longstanding relationships with its trusted suppliers who are proud to provide the backbone of the business—the products which Bruno’s uses in creating its speciality items. Bruno’s has always been known as a forward-thinking company, but with an old-fashioned mentality. “We’ve always been a quality type store,” says Mila. “We’re innovators; we love creating new things.” The company was a pioneer of ready-made products, so one may ask—what comes next for this business?
Mila won’t elaborate on the future plans, but undoubtedly there is something remarkable in the works. “We will eventually be expanding
within the next five years. The market is so saturated right now with grocery stores that if we are going to do something—it has to be different.” Given the company track record of doing just that, we have no doubt that it will be a huge success.