WATERTOWN — Loyal customers paid one last visit to Russo’s in Watertown to pick through the fresh produce or buy their favorite pastries before the iconic market closed for good Saturday afternoon.
Tony Russo, who has been working at his family’s market for more than 70 years, announced in August he was retiring and that the store would be closing in the fall. The family opened its first store, Town Garden, on Main Street, and their original warehouse was on Lexington Street in Watertown, according to their website.
Today Russo’s is located at 560 Pleasant St. In the 1970s, Tony backed efforts by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to support local farming through its slogan “Massachusetts, Grown & Fresher.” Throughout his time at the market Tony worked “tirelessly to source his products from the best local, regional, national and international growers,” the website said.
Some of the customers who visited the market Saturday afternoon had been shopping there for decades. Zarmine Karakozian, 67, of Belmont, said she used to take her daughter Tamar shopping at Russo’s when she was 3 years old.
“I used to come every single week,” Karakozian said.
Her daughter Tamar Iskenderian, now 40 and living in Waltham, said the store was special to her.
“[It’s] just the feeling that you get when you get in here,” Iskenderian said. “You just feel so at home and cozy.”
She said that she gets emotional just thinking about the store closing.
“Ever since we heard about it closing, every time I walk in I get all choked up and my eyes fill up,” Iskenderian said. “It’s so sad.”
Jennifer Huer, 38 of Chestnut Hill, has been shopping at Russo’s for years and said it was hard to say goodbye to something that has been part of the community for so long.
“There’s a lot of history, [and] there’s a lot of wonderful community feeling around a place like this,” Huer said.
Christopher Walker, 34 of Everett, said he’s been shopping at Russo’s for about eight years and called the market an institution.
“You’re kind of seeing a great thing go, and you have all the nostalgia from all the times you shopped and the great produce and seasonality of it,” Walker said.
“I just feel for all the people who put in, employees wise, put in all that time and effort in, and I feel like they’re the true heartbeat of this institution,” Walker added. “I’m just curious to know what they’re going to do. It seems like it’s very abrupt. [It’s] shocking.”
Adam Sennott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.