Dale Kroop, Director
call (203) 287-7030
Liuzzi Cheese Production Facility Dedicated
On January 18th, Mayor Craig Henrici and State and Town officials officially welcomed the Liuzzi family and their new cheese manufacturing facility.
Story By: By Ann DeMatteo: Assistant Metro Editor
(With permission from the New Haven Register)
HAMDEN — Since moving into a warehouse and manufacturing plant more than 50 times larger, production for the Liuzzi Cheese Co. has doubled, company officials said during a tour of the new plant and warehouse on Rossotto Drive Thursday.
In October, Liuzzi left a 500-square-foot manufacturing space at the rear of its store on State Street in North Haven for 25,000 square feet in an industrial area off Sherman Avenue. And, they’ve renamed their popular 322 State St. store Liuzzi’s Gourmet Market.
In the near future the family, which has been in the cheese-making business for five generations, will expand its cheese lines to include skim milk products. They now make fresh and smoked mozzarella, smooth and old-fashioned ricotta, caciocavallo, cacioricotta, scamorza, burrini and butter.
Distribution in the tri-state area and in Florida also will be expanded. “We’re now distributing there but we will expand. We’ve been turning away business for a long time,” said Domenic Liuzzi, a part owner with his brother, Ralph Liuzzi. Their father, Pasquale “Lino” Liuzzi, founded the company in 1981 and his brother, Nicola “Nick” Liuzzi, joined three months later. Nick Liuzzi is president and Lino Liuzzi is chairman of the board, and they’re still getting their hands — and rubber-booted feet — wet in the manufacturing process, which leaves water on the tiled floor.
“I’ve been making cheese since I was 5 years old,” said Lino Liuzzi, now 69, who followed in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him. Originally, the cheese-making went under the name of Caseificio Moderno.
“I went to France when I was 16 and worked there for six months, then I worked for a cheese company in Milan. My dream was to come to the United States since I was 15, 16,” he said. After arriving in 1962, he worked at the former C & F Cheese Co. in East Haven before starting the company. He said he wanted to make specialty cheeses like he was used to making in Italy. “We still hold on to tradition. A lot of our products are still made by hand or the traditional way,” said Ralph Liuzzi, plant manager.
Cheese-making begins when a tank truck pumps unpasteurized milk into pipes that lead to a raw milk holding tank. The milk is pasteurized and held in another tank, until it is pumped into another big room with pipes above. When a valve is turned on, the liquid drops into vats. A starter ingredient is added and the whey eventually separates from solid cheese on the bottom of the vat. The cheese is removed and cut. Some cheeses, like caciocavallo, have to age in a freezer for 60 days before being sold. The warehouse stores boxes and boxes of olive oil, canned tomato and macaroni from Italy that are sold in the North Haven store and distributed to restaurants and delis, said Ralph Liuzzi.
In an effort to draw Liuzzi to Hamden, both the town and the state offered incentives, said Dale Kroop, Hamden’s director of economic and community development. The state provided an 80 percent tax abatement for five years on new real and personal property. The town gave Liuzzi a $5,000 grant from its business incentive program, and waived 25 percent of the building permit fees.
“To be eligible for the program you had to do a new purchase,” said Anne K. Karas, development agent with the state Department of Economic and Community Development, who had a tour of the plant Thursday. “What shocks me is they used to do production in 500 square feet. Now it’s 25,000 square feet,” Kroop said.
“It’s wonderful. It’s a big operation,” said Mayor Craig B. Henrici, who got to munch on a cheese and cracker spread the Luizzis had for visitors Thursday. “This is delicious. What is it?” he said of the caciocavallo.
The Liuzzis paid $1.4 million for the building and invested another $2.5 million into the new plant, which had to be refurbished as it once was a place where pine furniture was made. The new building is big enough for future growth, and more employees than the 15 office and warehouse production people they currently have may be hired.
Ann DeMatteo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 789-5716.
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