Italian Kitchen of Brockton sold to owners of Cape Cod Café

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BROCKTON – Vinnie Zibelli sat in a wooden booth seat next to the front window of the Italian Kitchen of Brockton restaurant, sipping black coffee from a thick white mug.

“I’m starting to get a bit misty-eyed,” he said.

It was the morning of the first day that his family didn’t own Brockton’s iconic Italian restaurant. The afternoon before, the Tosches family sold their business to Jeremy and Jonathan Jamoulis, the two brothers who own Cape Cod Café.

“It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been unemployed,” said Zibelli, 76.

Zibelli, who has worked at Italian Kitchen since 1970, is the husband of JoAnne Tosches. Until April 20, Tosches and her brother Gus co-owned the business, and it had been in their family for more than 60 years. Now, the Jamoulis brothers have officially taken the helm.

“We just hope to carry on the amazing tradition that the Tosches family and all the Italian Kitchen employees set forth,” said Jeremy Jamoulis.

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The two families have been intertwined since before the two restaurants opened. Cape Cod Café and Italian Kitchen are only 700 feet apart on Main Street. Zibelli even went to high school with Jeremy and Jonathan’s father.

“I’ve known the Jamoulis family since I knew what a family was,” Zibelli said. “This way, it just continues the legacy.”

The Jamoulis family has no plans to make changes. The staff, recipes and the building itself will stay exactly the same now that they’re in charge. Not much has changed since the restaurant became the Italian Kitchen in 1961. The staff, and even the famous recipe for meatballs, has stayed the same over the last 60 years.

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Where it all began

JoAnne’s father, Pasquale Tosches, first started the business in 1947. Back then, it was the Southend Market, located  at Brookside Avenue and Main Street in the Campello region of Brockton. In 1952, he added sandwich shop next door.

It wasn’t until 1961 when the business moved to 1071 Main St. – the same wood panel interior walls still there today. That’s when the name changed to Italian Kitchen of Brockton, and when Gus took over as owner from his father.

Ten years later, the market moved next door into what used to be a Cumberland Farms, and they’ve been selling their original products – from sauces, to pasta, to fully prepared and frozen chicken parmesan dishes, all made in-house – ever since.

The restaurant quickly became a staple of the Campello area. Zibelli said that they serve fourth- or fifth-generation customers, whose families have been patrons of the business since it began.

The sale

Gus Tosches’ son John was supposed to take over the business, keeping it in the family for a third generation. But John’s tragic and heartbreaking death in June 2020 rocked the Tosches family. John’s 15-year-old son, Matthew, was too young to pass the business down to, so Zibelli, JoAnne and Gus stayed on for an extra two years.

“It was just time,” Zibelli said about selling the restaurant. “Every year, people would ask me, ‘are you selling?'”

Zibelli said the family received several offers for the building.

“We don’t want it to change,” he said. “We didn’t want it to just disappear.”

Once the offer from the Jamoulis family came, they knew it was the right decision.

“We just wanted to keep it going,” said Jamoulis. “It’s entwined with the city of Brockton.” 

The Tosches family announced the deal on the Italian Kitchen’s Facebook page on April 18, with the official turnover happening a few days later. Zibelli said the reaction from the community has been predominantly supportive and positive.

“I pressed the button, and my wife’s phone rang about five seconds later,” he said.

Zibelli, dressed in his black “Italian Kitchen” polo shirt, said he and his family will stay on staff for a short period of time during the transitional period while the Jamoulis brothers get acclimated to the business.

“I am interested to see how they expand,” he said. “We’ve known each other in business and in friendship for so long, so it was a good marriage.”

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