Umberto Spagnuolo, one of the original founders of Fortinos, has passed away. He was 97 years old. Born in Italy, he managed his family's farm, where he developed a strong sense of leadership and passion for food, which in turn inspired his commitment to the development of the Fortinos grocery store. Spagnuolo and his brother-in-law, John Fortino, opened their first store in Hamilton in 1961 and brought on additional partners in later years. Spagnuolo operated the meat operations and created what became a signature recipe for his famous sausage.
Vince Scornaienchi, EVP of Fortinos and Fresh Food Development under the Loblaw Companies umbrella, remembers Spagnuolo, who he said was active in the business well into his 60s, after Loblaw purchased the company in 1988.
"He was always level headed. Of the eight partners, he was the equalizer and kept everyone on an even keel. He was friendly and always had a smile for everyone, and he was known as a bit of a practical joker."