Russo’s Market Will Be Closing, Owner Announces Retirement

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An institution in Watertown will be closing later this year when Russo’s market closes its doors after more than 100 years since it started business as a farm.

The announcement was sent out by the store on Sunday, Aug. 15, on Facebook, and a statement was also posted on the Russo’s website.

A Facebook post said that Tony Russo will be retiring later this year. He recalled working with his grandparents on the farm and his father and uncle at the wholesale warehouse.

The fixture in the Westside of Watertown, at 560 Pleasant St., sells produce, baked goods, has a deli, a flower shop and sells a variety of plants. It also is a favorite place for those getting trees at Christmas and pumpkins at Halloween.

Below is the letter from the Russo’s website.

To our Devoted and Loyal Customers

After more than 70 years working for the family business, Tony Russo is retiring.

Our business will close this fall.

It has been Tony’s privilege to serve our many wholesale and retail customers for seven decades.

Our business began as a small farm in Watertown more than 100 years ago. Every day at Russo’s – while surrounded by fresh produce – Tony is reminded of working alongside his grandparents on the farm and later, of working alongside his father and uncle at their wholesale warehouse. Their work ethic became his inspiration. Throughout the years, Tony has worked in all areas of the retail and wholesale business including trimming vegetables, driving trucks, loading and unloading trailers, putting up wholesale orders, sweeping the floor, buying produce and overseeing the most subtle details of the retail store. At any time, customers can find him involved in the displays of the fruits, vegetables, flowers, bakery, deli, cheese and garden departments. His days begin around 3:30 AM and end after 8 PM.

Tony has treasured watching generations of families shopping together as they choose their first spring vegetable plants, or the first local apples of the season and as they shop for Christmas trees (with classical music playing in the background, of course).

Tony deeply appreciates and will truly miss the employees who have worked everyday, sometimes outside in the harshest of weather conditions. These employees represent the backbone and the energy of the Russo’s environment, and their efforts will never be forgotten.

We cannot overstate Tony’s dedication to the world of fruits, vegetables and flowers. We also cannot overstate his dedication to Russo’s wonderful employees, customers, growers and suppliers. And we cannot thank Tony enough for what he has brought to so many people’s lives.


Thank you,

Russo’s

11 thoughts on “Russo’s Market Will Be Closing, Owner Announces Retirement

  1. AS FELLOW RETAILERS WE CAN ATTEST THAT
    RUSSO’S STANDS ALONE AS THE VERY BEST RETAILOR
    THAT WATERTOWN HAS EVER SEEN, IT IS AMAZING THE
    STORE THAT TONY HAS CREATED HERE!!
    THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE COME FROM MILES AROUND TO
    PATRONIZE RUSSO’S HIGH QUALITY MERCHANDISE
    AND IT’S VARIETY OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AND SO MUCH MORE!!
    THEY WILL BE SORELY MISSED!

  2. Charlie, are you able to look into the scoop regarding what will happen to the property? It would be amazing if someone could buy the business and carry it on. I fear a developer will take over and build more “luxury” apartments or condos or more lab space. Russos is such an important part of the fabric of the town and provides many, many jobs.

    • Yes, I will see what I can find out.

      Looks like the property is in the Pleasant St. Corridor 3 zone, which has the following uses in the Watertown Zoning Ordinance: PSCD-3 allows a mix of retail, commercial, and light industrial uses, and does not allow for residential uses.

      Looks like no apartments would be allowed but biotech would be.

  3. Sad news for Watertown and the surrounding communities. It’s a wonderful business. I respect Tony’s decision, as is his right, to retire and move on. Thanks for the pleasure you brought Watertown for so long!

  4. I moved from Waltham 5 years ago to South Yarmouth and still get up to Watertown to shop at Russo’s . I go back early 1950 when our family business KENDALL MARKET owner
    Phil Blanchette that I would go to the old Russo Homestead to pick up an order which was placed. I would pull into the driveway a little
    to fast and would get yelled at by Tony’s Grandfather he always wore a big soft hat and had a cigar as big as a baseball bat in his mouth.
    I would deal with Tony’s father for fruits & vegetables and with his Uncle Gilda for Cott Beverages. Wonderful family latter in years
    when my wife & I shopped at the new store we always when into the office to visit with Tony’s aunt Ida who was a wonderful lady .
    I miss those old days

    GOOD LUCK GOOD HEALTH TONY (junior)
    IN THE DAYS AHEAD TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

  5. Such a sad loss for all of us who loved to shop there but also for Russo’s employees, the restaurants and other businesses that used their wholesale business plus the farmers and artisans who sold their products there.

  6. Watertown will miss Russo’s. Tony has been a friend to many of us (and our dogs) and has worked to implement Watertown Local First, the single use plastic bag ban (in the days before the pandemic), and supported green issues in town. He also has taken it upon himself to organize cleanups of the public space beside his property to the river.
    We are sorry to see him sell, but I am most concerned about the land use between Russo’s and the river. Watertown has an important role to play in saving our long riverfront for access by the public.
    The Pleasant Street Corridor Plan prohibits housing. This is a great mistake and seems generated by the cry for no more traffic. Commercial zoning goes dark nights and weekends and deprives people who are already residing nearby of a destination of restaurants, cafes, specialized markets, bike and boat rentals, etc, etc. We could also support our artists with live-work space, galleries, and performance spaces. I’m not talking about building a mall–that is a product of past days and building use is being reinvented.
    Creative mixed-use here is the perfect solution with needed housing. Residents are shoppers. It could be our newest active neighborhood and keep people, not biotech, along the lovely riverfront.
    During the pandemic we have all been walking more and further and driving less. With the September start of the shuttle bus, access to Pleasant Street will be almost town wide and contribute to a lively, walkable neighborhood.
    Let’s commit to doing some needed Planning and changing the Zoning to accommodate the post-covid-when-it-comes needs of people for public spaces and residences all along our treasured riverfront where it is beautiful.
    barbara ruskin

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