Old-school presentation paired with a relaxed shopping experience, an endearing offer to carry groceries to customers' cars and a commitment to sourcing the highest quality produce at the fairest prices are just some of the many fundamental values held high by South-Yarra based greengrocer LaManna & Sons, and comparatively, something that has slipped away with the growth of large supermarket chains.
Tucked away in the midst of Chapel Street, South Yarra, you will find LaManna & Sons - an independently owned fruit, vegetable and produce store that is built on a family charm, an Italian atmosphere and impeccable customer service.
Rich in history, the LaManna business dates back to great-grandfather Vinenzo LaManna who arrived in Australia in the 1920s followed by Vincenzo's son Pasquale (Pat) opening the family's first greengrocer in Melbourne in 1953. The family passion has now been passed down over over four LaManna generations, with Greg LaManna (son of Pat and current co-founder of LaManna & Sons) wanting to ensure the family tradition and lineage flourished. "This comes naturally for us, it's in our blood," said Greg. "Since the 1950s when my father opened the first LaManna Fruitland store… our bloodline was fruiting!"
In 2017, Greg's sons Brandon and Jordan saw an opportunity to start their own chapter by opening their very own greengrocer alongside their dad. To ensure that customers receive nothing but the best quality produce at LaManna & Sons, Brandon and Jordan start their day at 12.30am to venture to the Epping Wholesale Market, where they hand-select and taste-test the freshest, best quality fresh fruit and veg for their customers.
"We typically arrive at the market just before 2.00 am and spend our mornings tasting different produce," said Brandon. "We always ensure that we taste before we buy - it's so important to ensure the best-tasting product for our customers." Post-market, these products will hit the shelves within a timeframe of three to four hours with the brothers serving customers in-store until closing time. With additional products like ready-made nutritious meals, freshly baked loaves of bread and pastries, fresh butter, milk, yogurts, beautifully wrapped hampers and even an in-store florist, LaManna & Sons provides that 'farmers-market' feel and is an ultimate source of inspiration for customers striving to live a wholesome lifestyle within the close proximity of the CBD and inner south-eastern suburbs.
"Shopping at our store isn't a chore, it's an experience that is enjoyable and easy," said Jordan. "Everything from the store layout, feel, music and every product sold has been carefully considered and it's something that sets us apart from the big supermarkets," he added.
The calibre of stock every day is flawlessly presented and retails competitively with large supermarket chains.
"We are actually cheaper on many lines and offer daily and weekly specials just like the majors do," said Greg. "They cannot compete with an independent family operation for the freshest produce and personal service - the best quality is sweet and immeasurable, poor quality is sour!"
Strong relationships with customers is an imperative element to drive LaManna & Sons' personable offering and experience.
"My sons are proud young men, our families heritage in retailing is powerful and we are all eager to prove to our customers why they make the right choice to shop in our family store," added Greg.
Marking the second birthday and a special milestone of its South Yarra store, LaManna & Sons will celebrate with a weekend-long Charcuterie Festival on the 16th and 17th of November, tying into their upcoming delicatessen opening in the new year. Think beautiful grazing platters, in-store cooking demonstrations, delicious food sampling from a range of local-suppliers, pre-packaged food hampers, a florist stand, live jazz performances and a blanket discount of 20 percent across all products.
For further information on LaManna & Sons visit lamannaandsons.com.au.
Question: Can you tell us about LaManna & Sons?
Brandon and Jordan LaManna: We are an independently owned fruit, vegetable and produce store, tucked away at 670 Chapel St, South Yarra. Our store is built on family charm, endearing customer service and authentic, old school presentation.
Our calibre of stock is profound - vibrant, fresh and the best quality. In addition to fruit and vegetable produce, we offer beautifully wrapped hampers, an in-store florist and delicious food products and take-home meals from our wonderful suppliers.
Looking back to our opening in 2017, and having just celebrated our 2nd birthday this weekend, we are nothing short of experienced in the greengrocer arena. Our family business dates back to great-grandfather Vinenzo LaManna who arrived in Australia in the 1920's, followed by Vincenzo's son Pasquale (Pat) opening the family's first greengrocer in Melbourne in 1953.
Ultimately, we saw an opportunity to start our own chapter and having seen the passion from our Dad, Greg LaManna, and other family members, and we knew we had the support to open up our own store alongside Dad and have not looked back.
Alongside our products we host a bargain table that is a massive hit for all our customers, we give everything a second chance, let it be a softer tomato or a banana with a small mark, we have a no-waste policy.
Question: What's a typical day like for you at LaManna & Sons? Can you talk to us about how and where you source your produce?
Brandon and Jordan LaManna: A typical day for Jordan/Brandon and myself means arriving at the Epping Wholesale Market just shy of 2.00 am, where we hand-select and taste-test the freshest, best quality fruit and veg for our customers.
We always ensure that we taste before we buy, this is so important as we want all customers to be satisfied with how their produce tastes. Unless a particular product has to be cooked, we can assure you that we have tried everything and guarantee it will taste great.
Post-market, we will arrive in store around 5 am, meaning items hit the shelves within a time frame of 3-4 hours after purchase. From here we begin to set up the shop and take careful consideration into presentation and display - we want to assist our customers with meal planning and the like!
Question: When did you start working at LaManna & Sons?
Brandon and Jordan LaManna: We started working at LaManna & Sons from the minute we opened the store, back in mid-November 2017. Since then, we've never looked back. We work virtually seven days a week, but it's not a chore. We're passionate about what we do and strive to positively fulfill the customer's shopping experience every single day. Strong relationships with our customers and our suppliers come naturally to us - we work the business hard and we listen.
Question: Was it expected or a choice for you to work full-time at LaManna & Sons?
Brandon and Jordan LaManna: Both. And we mean that in the best way possible. We work virtually seven days a week, but it's not a chore. We're passionate about what we do and strive to positively fulfill the customer's shopping experience every single day. Strong relationships with our customers and our suppliers come naturally to us - we work the business hard and we listen.
Question: Why is it crucial for you to carry groceries to customers' cars?
Brandon and Jordan LaManna: We believe that old school customer service is something that has seemingly been lost amongst the rise of huge supermarket chains. We hold strong relationships with customers and will cater to all budgets, needs and desires. When we and our amazing staff walk into work, our attitude is focused on one thing - the customer.
We love recommending products, and different varieties of produce to our customers to help them make the best meals possible. Customers can see everything in-store because our presentation is considered and nothing is overhead height or in the way. Our greengrocer and cafe is colourful, vibrant and has a great vibe. From our staff, to our playlist - full of Queen, Elvis, Sinatra, and even Rufus - we aim to encompass a wonderful, enjoyable and seamless shopping experience.
Question: What are your five favourite LaManna & Sons products?
Jordan LaManna: Our avocados - we treat them like babies!
Our freshly ground Aussie peanut butter
SAN marzano Tomatoes
LaManna Granola - Mum's batch!
Brandon LaManna: Anything that is a fruit or veg! It's simply too hard to choose particular items.
Marrisa's Crunchy Parmasan Dip
LaManna Soy Crisp Cashew nut mix
Tamar Valley Truffle Cheddar
Monterey Jack Jalapeno Cheese
Question: What's next for LaManna & Sons? Brandon and Jordan LaManna: Next? Less than a year away our cafe in Cremorne will expand and we will open our new Delicatessen at our South Yarra location. 2020 is set to be a jam-packed year! Three years from now? Who knows. Our biggest focus is always striving to be better and fresher in all aspects of our business.
Interview by Brooke Hunter