Cafe Society

The Spinellis sell their Park Hill market to Pete's Fruit and Vegetables, keep sauce company

Jerry and Mary Ellen Spinelli have given Park Hill a taste of Italy for two decades, as well as a market that neighbors can call their own. But the couple decided two years ago that it was time to retire, and last month announced that they have sold Spinelli's Market to the owners of Pete's Fruit and Vegetables -- a like-minded local market in Hilltop.

"I talked to a lot of different people who had a lot of different ideas, but not the idea of wanting to keep it as a grocery store and as what it means to the neighborhood," says Jerry Spinelli. "But the Moutzouris brothers came in and realized that they wanted to maintain it as such. They run a similar business, so they get it. We really got lucky."

See also: Best Sandwich Shop Denver 2011 -- Spinelli's Market

The brothers, John and Ted Moutzouris, have run Pete's with their father, Pete, for thirty years at 5606 Cedar Avenue, selling Greek, Jewish and Mediterranean regional specialties to the numerous ethnic groups that live in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Spinelli says the brothers will keep the Italian theme at his market, right down to the fresh mozzarella that is made on-site three days a week. "They bought all my intellectual property, my recipes. They retained all the staff and bought the name," he says. "It was a perfect fit. What's better than an Italian but a Greek?"

The sale will allow the Spinellis to concentrate on the sauce company they created in 2007 with chef Chris Rogers, who develops many of the recipes.

Spinelli's sauces can already be found in numerous small markets and large grocery stores in Colorado, as well as in New Mexico, Texas, Georgia and other states.

"We want to grow it, but you have to get out there if you want to do that," says Spinelli, adding that he is also producing a line of salad dressings.

All of the sauces are produced in a commercial kitchen in Louisville without the use of genetically modified tomatoes. Varieties include classic marinara, roasted garlic, Puttanesca and vodka.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes