Around the late 1950s, the Guarnero family started John’s Ravioli in Queens. The business started as a grocery store and became what it is now: a pasta manufacturing plant with a small retail operation.
After much success, the company needed space to expand which lead to a move to New Rochelle.
The now New Rochelle-based company is owned by husband and wife duo Toni and Robert Guarnero of Harrison.
Three generations down the line, Robert Guarnero and his wife have taken the helm of the business. The couple has three grown children — two boys and a girl. Robert says they have worked for the business and have a “strong work ethic,” evidenced by the fact that the two boys are pre-law and pre-med and the daughter plans on being an actuary.
As for the food, Toni proudly states that their pastas are a “close to homemade pasta product,” which has been good enough for a Jenny Craig tortellini soup and the U.S. military troops.
She calls their gnocchi “the best institutionally made gnocchi” and says that they make it with flour imported all the way from Italy.
Though John’s Ravioli has sold to grocery markets such as as well as specialty shops, they also have a retail section to their factory, so that their loyal customers can stop by and get their favorite products in a heartbeat—making it clear that as this company grows they never forget the needs of their local consumer.
You may be wondering “Who is John?” When Robert’s grandfather bought the grocery store from the owner, John, he kept the name as a part of John’s Ravioli.
Here is what Robert Guarnero has to say about owning John’s Ravioli:
Why did you choose this as your business?
I like feeding people (he laughs). It is very comforting to know that the food I am making is feeding people and their families … and nourishing them. I take comfort in that.
How did you get started in your business?
It’s a third-generation business. It was originally started as a sandwich shop in Queens, and then it was moved to a production facility in another section of Queens, and then I moved it up to New Rochelle as a manufacturing facility.
What was your toughest challenge to overcome?
There are so many. If you run a business, there are challenges everyday. New ones come about everyday—some more difficult than others.
The move was a challenge—you know, moving from Queens up to New Rochelle. There are just too many for me to tell you which one was the most challenging one.
What's the thing you like most about your business?
I take a lot of pride in manufacturing the finest quality pasta product that I can. And when customers compliment it or tell me, “That’s the best ravioli or gnocchi or pasta product that I have ever had!,” that gives me a lot of pride.
What's the thing you dislike the most about your business?
We are USDA and we have to comply with … USDA regulations—Federal and state regulations. I think that aspect of it is what I like the least.
What makes you different from your competition?
We are the finest quality.
What suggestions would you have for someone who wants to go into business today?
You have to work hard and be prepared to sacrifice your time. And you have to give it your best effort. If you do that, you will be successful.
What is the secret to your success?
Hard work and pride in quality. Pride in what we do.