The Parisi Story
The three generation Parisi story is the kind of tale that reminds us what makes Australia great. From tradition to family business to a city-wide brand whose presence in Sydney is still expanding, Chris Parisi and his family are still part of the daily operations of what is a multi-faceted icon of food.
Founders, Tony and Bob Parisi, first established the brand after migrating from their island home of Lipari, Italy. Bringing values from the Aeolian islands of the Mediterranean, the Parisi brothers translated their passion for food into a traditional fruit and vegetable store in Strathfield in 1954. They found the trade was easily accessible for migrants and encountered a community among other Italians in the markets. Parisi found success quickly and built its reputable name around the culture of fine food, something that is synonymous with its Italian origins.
In 1981, Tony’s three sons, Dominic, Chris and John, looked to grow the Parisi brand. The second generation of Parisi brothers purchased the Rose Bay site for its prime location in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. They transformed the 600 square metre space into a purpose-built fruit and veg store, and planted their roots in the lush suburb, becoming known to the locals who gravitated to the quality produce and exquisite selection. More than just fresh fruit and vegetables, Parisi’s standard of product matched the culture of luxury that Rose Bay is known for and became one of the leading fruit and veg stores in Australia.
The Parisi store remained in Rose Bay for 29 years, until it was sold and the three Parisi brothers retired. This is not, however, where the story ended.
Chris Parisi took some time to travel through Europe and in particular back to his homeland, Italy. It was sometime during these six months that Chris, who calls Italians the leaders in hospitality, found inspiration.
After culinary adventures through Italy, it is no wonder that Chris came out of retirement shortly after. Instigated by Chris’ son, Julian, who at the time was working with Investment Bank; Goldman Sachs. He approached his father and asked him quite bluntly if he was sick of doing nothing. With a twinkle in his eye, Chris asked, “Why is that, Julian?”
The father and son team sat down and collaborated a plan. The vision was to re-ignite the Parisi brand. Holding on to the key values and tradition of the PARISI brand, whilst adapting to the changing style of retail and consumer eating. Chris and Julian saw the demand to move into high quality readily made meals; they believed consumers were moving away from the traditional large shopping basket / home cooking, to now buying fresh as required and eating out. This lead PARISI to develop the ever relevant wholesale and food service arm of the business.
Parisi re-entered the produce scene in 2010 with a retail space at the Iconic Sydney Fish Markets. The first 12 months were direct to consumer sales, but it was in this seafood hub that chefs from Sydney’s finest restaurants and eateries flocked to Parisi’s top end produce.
Today, In addition to fruit and vegetable retail and wholesale PARISI operate five small format stores, which they like to refer to them as health bars. Serving healthy beverages, gourmet salads and, of course, their signature chocolate-dipped fruits. These stores would are in key locations at Sydney Fish Market, Darling Harbour, Queen Victoria Building, Barangaroo, Bondi Beach.
Staying true to the PARISI brand in service and quality, the food service / wholesale arm of PARISI organically multiplied. PARISI aim not just to supply premium produce, rather engage in consulting chefs on product in menu development. PARISI wholesale now currently operates out of a large warehouse in Flemington Produce Markets.
Chris says focus for the business right now is in developing the online shopping service.
One can buy beautifully presented gift boxes filled with PARISI high quality seasonal produce, available for same day delivery when ordered online parisisydney.com
Despite the growth, PARISI maintain the values of a traditional family business. With Julian working across operations, Chris and his son-in-law Joe on purchasing. On any given day, all three can be seen visiting the various sites and stores, overseeing product and maintaining close relationships with their clients and staff.
The future looks just as exciting for the third generation Parisi Group, with plans to vertically integrate their business with specialty growers, develop their online presence, expand on their export capacity, and open PARISI stores in select areas around the globe.