Cardullo’s Gourmet Shop
Compiled by Deb Mandel, 2022
6 Brattle St., Harvard Square
On April 1st, 1950, Frank Natali Cardullo set out to fill a niche supplying quality foods for the neighborhood’s international community. Cardullo was born in Messina, Italy in 1915 and came to Boston in 1929, originally to become a doctor. His shop began as a deli on Boylston St. (now JFK Street), as an extension of the Wursthaus Restaurant he owned across the street. Imported and gourmet foods, a deli counter, oyster bar, and fine wines became the staples of Cardullo’s. Although the oyster bar is gone, the narrow aisles, tall shelves, signage, and old details make the shop a charming throwback to the old days.
Cardullo’s was family-owned and operated for 65 years. In 1978, Cardullo originated Harvard Square’s Oktoberfest, now an annual tradition. Francis (Frank Jr.), a former airplane pilot, bought the shop from his father in 1993. He established the store’s hot sauce section and expanded British foods and tea selections.
On October 12, 1997, the 20th anniversary of Oktoberfest, Cardullo was officially recognized, by proclamation of Cambridge Mayor Sheila Doyle Russell, as the originator of the Oktoberfest. On October 25th, 1997, he passed away, succumbing to lung and heart disease. In 2009, Cardullo Jr., then known as Frances, died at the age of 68.
That same year, Cardullo’s participated in the Chili Cook-Off, part of the first Winter Carnival sponsored by Harvard Square Business Association. In 2010, Cardullo’s celebrated its 60th anniversary with six weeks of events, providing food samples from each decade. The daughters updated and expanded the website and branding and began to sell more prepared foods to meet the demands of a changing customer base.
That same year, Cardullo’s large screen tv was removed from the front windows. This was a great disappointment to members of the “chair club” who used to gather there to watch Red Sox games and news events, such as President Obama’s inauguration.
In 2015, daughters of Frances Cardullo, Donez Cardullo Tavilla and Francesca Cardullo Sibboe, sold the popular business to a Newton couple, Rich and Kim Wilson. In 2018, Cardullo’s expanded to Boston’s seaport area.
Cardullo, Frank. Jr. Peeking Through the Hole of a Bagel or Behind a Hot Pastrami: The Life and Times of a Restauranteur. 1990. (A personal autobiography and thorough account of his life, as told to Elena S. Whiteside)
“The Cambridge Slant Editorial: City Loses Two Friends.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 13 November 1997, p.16. (obituary of Frank Cardullo Sr.)
“Community Notes: Octoberfest and HONK Parade in Harvard Square.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 9 October 2014, p.2.
Feijo, Sarah.“Harvard Square: Cardullo’s Sold After Six Decades.”The Cambridge Chronicle, 16 July 2015, p.1.
Hall, Alexandra. “A Heaven for Hedonists.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 23 May 1996, p.17.
Hassett, George P. “Cardullo’s Owner Dies: Third Generation to Take Over Harvard Square Shop.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 5 March 2009, p.1.
Rich, Gillian. “Cardullo’s Celebrates 60 Years.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 25 March 2010, p.6.
Thomas, Jen. “Cardullo’s Chair Club No More.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 2 September 2010, p.1.
Weiss, Eliza. “Cantabrigians It’s Getting Hot in Here.” The Cambridge Chronicle, 12 February 2009, p.19.