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Reliable Market

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Louie Larsen grew up working with his dad, "Big Louie." Now his son Andrew (shown getting a free ride about 20 years ago, top) works side by side (bottom) with him at The Net Result in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Alison Shaw.

The Times recently spoke with fathers and their sons and daughters who work together in family businesses. The benefits, they unanimously report, far outweigh the challenges. One upside? Most of them will be spending Father’s Day together — working.

The Net Result

Louis Larsen grew working at the family business — Larsen’s Fish Market in Menemsha, and ran the store for a few summers in the early 1970s. He stuck with the business when he and his wife Beth opened the Net Result on Beach Road in 1985. Their son Andrew has been working full time for three years.

Andrew Larsen, left, and his dad, Louie Larsen work side by side at The Net Result.
Andrew Larsen, left, and his dad, Louie Larsen work side by side at The Net Result.

Louie Larsen: I grew up working with my father. It was great. Working with my son is awesome. I’m glad he’s here. You feel like you’re teaching somebody. He definitely has more patience than I do. When it’s your own child you’re proud that he takes an interest in your job.

My father just passed away this year. I used to make it a habit to have a cookout on Father’s Day and get all of the family together. Not sure what we’ll do this year.

Andrew Larsen: It’s going great. The family is the most important thing. When you boil it down there’s nothing else.

Giordano’s

Giordano’s has been a family-run business since 1930 when Edwardo and Mary Giordano founded the popular restaurant. Today, there are multiple family members involved, including the owners — brothers Richie and Buster (grandsons of the founders), Richie’s children Michael and Leanne, and Buster’s sons Billie, Carl, and Jason.

Michael Giordano (left) and his dad, Richie, work side by side making pizza.
Michael Giordano (left) and his dad, Richie, work side by side making pizza.

Richie Giordano: It’s really satisfying working with your son, but it is challenging, because you expect more. We’re not just in the building together, we’re in the pizza room side by side. That’s the challenging part. The family understands the nature of the business — it’s a seasonal business and there are long hours. There are times when there’s an event that they want to go to, but they just suck it up and do the job. With family you have that mesh where the gears are working together. It’s one happy family. Not all of the time but most of the time.

Winter to me is make-up time. What we can’t do in the summer time we try to make it up as a family in the winter.

Michael Giordano was an early pizza helper.
Michael Giordano was an early pizza helper.

Michael Giordano: Working for your family is a unique situation. It’s an experience that not many people get. It can be tough, but it’s really rewarding too. When I was a little kid I always begged my Dad to take me to work with him, and of course he would bring me along. I’d fold pizza boxes on the marble bench in front of the window with him. We’ve spent every summer working together on that very same marble bench, him composing the pizzas and me cooking them. My father is extremely insightful and knowledgable. He’s taught me many valuable life lessons while working together. He’s always preached to think twice before I act.

My dad and I both love hockey. We go to Bruins games when we can, but that’s few and far between.

Leanne Giordano started out folding pizza boxes.
Leanne Giordano started out folding pizza boxes.

Leanne Giordano: I was a box folder as a child. The only acceptable form of payment those days was multiple rides on the Flying Horses. I’ve been a busser, a pizza room cashier, host, and server before becoming the dining room manager. We continue to learn the ways of our great grandparents and grandparents through my dad and uncle in hopes of continuing the family tradition. Working with my dad is a privilege — he’s hard-working, kind, generous. However, we’re working on his jokes; they’re only funny the first ten times!

Reliable Market

Bob Pacheoc and his son, Ed.
Bob Pacheoc and his son, Ed.

The Reliable Market was founded in 1947 by Eddie and Helen Pacheco. For three generations, every immediate family member has worked in the store. Helen Pacheco worked in the store right up until 2005, when she passed away at age 91. Today Bob and his wife, Donna, are joined in the operation by their two children, Jennifer Lynn Freeman and Eddie Pacheco. The market closes on Sundays at 1 pm so that the entire family can get together outside of work, so Fathers Day won’t be quite all work and no play.

Bob Pacheco: It’s great working with family. It’s something we’ve done for so long. I’m proud to have my kids working for me and have the family tradition continue. When my mom was alive, Sunday afternoon was family time. It’s Just something we’d like to continue. We get to spend time with the grandchildren. I look forward to it every week. It’s a different dynamic outside of work. It’s a little more relaxed.

Eddie Pacheco: The work environment isn’t much different than any other boss/employee relationship. What’s challenging from time to time is keeping the store at the store and not bringing it home. We try not to talk about the store outside of work.

Jen (Pacheco) Freeman: I’ve never worked under anyone else except my grandmother. It’s very special working for family. You can’t be fired – but you can’t quit!

Reliable has always been on Circuit Ave., but it started out down the street, on the other side of Phillips Hardware. — Photo Courtesy of Reliable Market
Reliable-Eddie-Helen-Pacheco.jpg
Reliable founders Helen and Eddie Pacheco.

When it opened in 1947, Armando “Eddie” Pacheco called his store “Reliable Self-Service Market” because at the time, it was uncommon for customers, rather than clerks, to pick their own items from the shelves. The trend caught on, and while the other five markets on Circuit Avenue withered, Mr. Pacheco bought three other buildings and a spot for a parking lot (hence the uneven floors and aisles). Today, the store is owned by Eddie Pacheco’s son Robert, who shares the responsibilities with his wife, son, and daughter.

When did you first start taking responsibilities at the store?

After school, helping my dad since I was maybe 12.

What has changed about the store over the years?

A lot of the product lines have changed, but especially the technology. It was a big deal to get scanning registers and digital scales.

What has stayed a staple of the business from the start?

Eddie and Helen Pacheco with their son Bob, current owner of Reliable.
Eddie and Helen Pacheco with their son Bob, current owner of Reliable.

We have a lot of long-time employees, and long-time customers. We like to think that we give personal service, that we know our customers. We have a great local Island customer base from all the towns.

What’s the most challenging part of running a business on the Vineyard?

That’s a hard question. It’s all challenging, but you come in and give it your best every day. Come in tomorrow and do the same thing.

What’s it like working so closely with your family?

We have a fairly good sized store, so we’re kind of broken up into our own departments. I work mostly in the meat department with my son, my daughter works mostly at the front, and my wife works in the back office taking care of the books, payroll, and things like that. Naturally we all work together, but it’s not like we’re side by side in a small room.

What are some of the benefits of having a family business?

We’ve been doing it for so long, it comes second nature.

What do you love about your Oak Bluffs location?

It’s a great central location. We have the post office and the hardware store, and Linda Jean’s, which are all convenient neighbors. Phillips has been our neighbor since we started in 1947. We used to be in the store where Basics is now, but even when we moved, we just moved to the other side of Phillips. They’ve been on one side or the other for sixty-something years.

What is your most memorable experience at the store?

A lot has changed in the aisles of Reliable.
A lot has changed in the aisles of Reliable.

Sometimes you get a little brushed up when there’s a hurricane or extreme weather condition, but you just deal with it. Hurricane Bob was a crazy day to be at work. My customers really don’t panic that much, but you still know on those days they will want to get to the store. So you try to do your best to serve them when they get here.

Do you ever have issues getting your deliveries to the Island?

We own our own tractor trailer, so we do it ourselves, picking things up from a distribution center in New Hampshire. We have a very good driver, so it works pretty smoothly, and we always have control over it.

What are your plans for the future of the business? Will it stay in the family?

Bob Pacheco says the meat cutting department at Reliable is one of the features that sets it apart from other Island markets.
Bob Pacheco says the meat cutting department at Reliable is one of the features that sets it apart from other Island markets.

I don’t plan any big changes. Both my children are working in the business, and they seem interested in it. We do remodels and updates as we go along, but our location makes it hard for us to do any major expansions.

What sets Reliable apart from other grocery stores on the Island?

We have a personalized butcher department, we do a lot of cut-to-order meats, marinated and stuffed products, store made meatballs and meatloaf. Things like that are not as easy to come by in other stores.

What would your parents say about the business today?

Reliable Market.
Reliable Market.

I think they’d get a chuckle out of it if they saw the store crowded, saw their grandkids working hard. They’d get a chuckle out of it.

In a good way?

Yeah, in a good way.