|Today, Joe’s Produce has 31,000 square feet to display
vegetables, baked goods, prepared meals,
and variety of beverages.
Livonians have visited the same Seven Mile Road location to buy fruit longer than they’ve been going to city hall.
As one of Livonia’s longest-lasting businesses, Joe’s Produce celebrated its 70th anniversary Aug. 1 with a customer appreciation.
“We’ve grown with the community,” said Joe Maiorana Jr., the operation’s third-generation owner. “We’ve always had a great customer base here in Livonia, and we would not have lasted this long without our many loyal customers in this town.”
|A young Joe Maiorana Jr. stands with her grandmother,
Frances, in front of the Maiorana Orchards
fruit stand on in the early-1960s.
Joe’s grandfather, Gaspare Maiorana purchased a 40-acre farm off Seven Mile in 1945 – five years before Livonia chartered as a city. On this farm, Gaspare built a fruit stand where he sold items he harvested from the farm which was known as Maiorana Orchards.
Gaspare’s son, Joe, built a 6,500-square-foot store on farm property in 1967 and called it Joe’s Produce. The new building enabled the family business to offer more products for its customers, such as vegetables and dairy items. He expanded the store in 1985 with another 12,000 square feet for more refrigerated products and prepared salads.
|Owner Joe Maiorana Jr. stands with |
Produce Manager George Gjnoaj.
Joe Maiorana Sr. retired in 1997 and turned things over to his son. Joe Jr. oversaw another expansion, completed in spring 2007, which added another 12,500 square feet for larger displays and aisles, new sections for deli, prepared hot and cold meals, specialty baked goods and coffee. The building’s exterior was also renovated. The Livonia Chamber of Commerce recognized Joe’s Produce for this project with a Livonia Community Enhancement Award.
Joe Maiorana Jr. said adding prepared foods enabled the business to branch out and offer more services. A catering operation, Joe’s Gourmet Catering, developed in 2007. Two new food stores emerged in the adjacent strip center in 2012 with Joe’s Meat and Seafood and Art of Bread.
|Joe’s Produce expanded its services by adding|
Joe’s Meats and Seafood and Art of Bread in 2012.
“Having the fresh meat and fresh bread available here all the time is good for our customers and our catering operation,” Maiorana said. “Not many catering operations can say everything was made from scratch at one place.”
Dan West, president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, said people travel from miles away to shop at any of the Joe’s stores because they know they are buying quality products.
“Joe’s Produce is one of Livonia’s signature businesses,” West said.
|Joe Maiorana Jr. stands in front of at the |
entrance into Joe’s Produce, featuring an
outdoor display as tribute to the fruit
stand his grandfather built to
start the family business.
Maiorana credits his staff of 150 employees for the continued success of the store, many of whom are veteran employees such as produce manager George Gjonaj, who has worked at the store for 28 years. He also praises the work of 14 trained culinarians and other conscious managers.
“They are meticulous and take their time to do a good job,” Maiorana said. “They always talk about how they are willing to experiment and try to do things differently, to keep things fresh.”
Seven decades in business is an enormous sense of pride for the Maiorana family, many of whom worked on the farm or in the store. As a boy, Maiorana remembers a poignant comment his father made to him in 1970. He pointed to a Joe’s Produce logo and said: “That’s what you’re going to do.”
Today, Joe Sr. is enjoying retired life in Florida, but visits and embraces the decisions that helped Joe’s Produce evolve from a family farm into one of metro Detroit’s premier food markets.
“My dad really likes the changes,” Joe Jr. said. “My grandfather would also be impressed.”