I was meandering my way northeast in Bushwick the other day, heading for 69th Street in Maspeth where I would catch the Q18 bus back to Woodside, and the LIRR back home. At Wilson Avenue just off Hart Street, I spotted this ancient linoleum sign at #165, for the Iavarone Brothers Pork Store. The gabagool had moved out several years previous, and there was a bar at the location called The Wheelhouse, described at The Infatuation website as “a place in Bushwick where 80% of the menu involves some variation of a grilled cheese sandwich, and nearly everyone lives in the neighborhood and is trying to pursue a standup comedy career.” I recall that Astoria had its own hip grilled cheese joint on Broadway that didn’t last long, so here’s hoping better luck for The Wheelhouse.
I’m here for the sign, which looks like it goes back to the 1940s or so. Great color combo of beige and green, with serif lettering that includes a unique take on a capital “S.” The 1940 Municipal Archives reveals that 165 Wilson was a pizzeria in 1940, and not yet a delicatessen.
And that was that, or so I thought. But when I got to 69th and Grand in Maspeth, I spotted another Iavarone Brothers sign — one I’d seen dozens of times before. I didn’t make the connection when I saw the older sign. But they are indeed connected. Italian immigrant Pasquale Iavarone (these days pronounced “Eye-av-a ROAN”) opened his first delicatessen in 1919, and his sons Joe and Jerry expanded the business to other locations beginning in 1951. The flagship is now in Maspeth, but there are also locations in New Hyde Park and Wantagh. The business remains in the family.