In March of 1948, Robert Zoccoli Sr. and his wife, Augusta, both Italian immigrants, along with their daughter Nelli and her husband Lloyd Sherman, formed a partnership and bought a small grocery store. The Plaza Grocery, a Red & White Food Store, was located in downtown Santa Cruz where Zoccoli's Deli resides now. It was a very diversified operation that sold everything from household supplies to deli meats and cheeses, many of which we still carry today.
Sandwiches! The early 70's was when the store decided to start making a few sandwiches. Nelli and Ann began experimenting with deli salads and soups, which are still the same recipes used today. In 1977, Lloyd and Nelli sold their interest to Tom Mills and his wife Sharon, who is Bob's niece. The store's name was then changed to Zoccoli's Deli after the family name.
In December of 1955, downtown Santa Cruz was flooded. The back door on Front Street had 2 feet of water pushing against it. The back door was carefully sandbagged which only allowed about 2 inches of water on the main floor; however, the basement was flooded with 2 1/2 feet of standing water. A great deal of merchandise was destroyed. Robert Zoccoli Jr. was in the Navy and was granted leave to assist the family during this difficult time. The store was able to remain open during the clean-up to service their customers.
The deli business was booming! The store was completely remodeled, with the addition of a full kitchen, in order to service the customers more efficiently. In April of 1989, Tom and Sharon sold their interest to Craig and Russell Zoccoli, Bob and Ann's sons. All was well until October 17, 1989. The devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake destroyed most of downtown Santa Cruz. For the first time since 1948, Zoccoli's doors were closed. A month later, operating out of a 10'X30' trailer, we were one of the first businesses to temporarily relocate and service customers downtown.
In 1962, Robert Sr. and Augusta, turned their interest of the store over to Robert Jr, (Bob) and his wife Ann. In the late 60's the store was renamed The Plaza Mediterranean.
It wasn't until 18 months later that our customers were able to walk through the same doors as they had prior to the earthquake. Our customers faithfully supported us as the new downtown was being rebuilt around us.
Bob and Ann have retired, turning the store over to their sons, Russell, who runs the kitchen and Craig, who oversees the daily operations of the main floor. Craig's wife, Patty assists in running the daily operations of the deli. The Zoccoli Family, now in its third generation, is proud to continue operating one of the oldest family run businesses in Santa Cruz.