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Sanfillipo Produce buys Macaluso Fruit and the Columbus Produce Terminal Market

Sanfillipo Produce Co. Inc., a Columbus, OH-based produce distributor, has purchased Macaluso Fruit Co., also located in Columbus. The deal closed Dec. 6 and Sanfillipo will take possession Jan. 1. Additionally, the Sanfillipo family purchased the Columbus Produce Terminal Market.

The Sanfillipo family started in the produce business in Columbus in 1899. Macaluso Fruit was founded more than a century ago.

A group of investors built the Columbus Produce Terminal Market in 1962-63. As the years passed, Frank Cautela's father, Henry (son in-law of Frank Macaluso), bought out the other partners to become the sole owner of the market. Since Henry Cautela's death in 2001, Frank Cautela has controlled the market as well as Macaluso Fruit.

The produce market building sits on a 5.5-acre lot, has approximately 40,000 square feet of warehouse space, and 20 bays that are 2,000 square feet each. Including the front and back docks, there is 55,000 square feet under roof.

The Sanfillipo and Macaluso/Cautela families have been intertwined for more than a century. Frankie Cautela's grandparents lived across the street from Jim Sanfillipo's grandparents in the early 1920s.

Around that same time, Frank Macaluso's father died. Suddenly, Frank Macaluso was head of his family at 16 years old. A decade earlier, Jim's grandfather, Joe, experienced the same situation when he lost his father in 1911 at age 17 and had to take care of his mother and four younger siblings.

Knowing the struggle that young Frank Macaluso faced, Jim Sanfillipo's grandfather took Frank around to all of the Macaluso customers and gave them gallons of Joe's favorite homemade cherry wine and asked them to keep buying from Frank since he had to support his mother and his three younger siblings.

Sanfillipo Produce moved to the Columbus Produce Terminal Market in August 2004. The company initially rented two bays. Since then, it expanded yearly and eventually occupied nine bays. Needing more room, it decided to make a deal with Frank Cautela to purchase the market. Moving forward, Sanfillipo Produce will rent eight or nine bays and keep 11 or 12 for its own operation. The company said it already has potential renters interested in the space.

The building is 50 years old and needs basic repairs, but the structure is solid. The Sanfillipo family plans to renovate the market in the future.