ASTORIA – Grand Wine and Liquor, 30-05 31st Street in Astoria, is a staple of the neighborhood, celebrating 84 years offering an impressive variety of wines and other alcoholic beverages for even the most demanding customer, including a wide range of Greek wines and more.
The company was founded in 1937, by Robert Battipaglia, in the period immediately after the repeal of Prohibition. For Battipaglia, it was a side business, as his main concern was to establish himself in the local political scene. He may not have imagined at that time that the next generation would make Grand Wine and Liquor the standard for the entire area.
"The truth is that, after the first 20 years, my grandfather thought the store was not doing well enough and wanted to sell it. But when my father reached adulthood, he decided to run it himself. Not only did he run it, but he expanded it, investing heavily in Greek wines, as well as others from Eastern Europe. This helped him build the business' reputation. So he expanded the space and bought this building," Bob Battipaglia, the grandson of the founder, who has taken over the management of the company, told The National Herald.
As the third generation in this family-run business, Bob literally "grew up" inside the store. He worked part-time and helped his father during his student years, work in wine sales, and in 2017, he was called on to take over and continue the family business. He was, in fact, ready for a long time.
Regarding the evolution of the business and the significant changes in the profile of the customers themselves, Battipaglia noted that the flexibility in the selection and distribution of products was immediate, towards a very demanding audience.
"Demographics have changed, a lot of the older residents have left for the suburbs and new people have come to the area who work in Manhattan. So the profile has changed, now we have wines from all over the world, mainly of medium price, while our big goal is to take advantage of e-commerce. We have a modern website and we emphasize online orders. E-commerce is growing at a rate of… 20 percent each year and the pandemic - something that can be seen from the launch of Amazon - has made many people accustomed to ordering from home," he said, noting that the surge in sales during the lockdown was almost unexpected.
"A lot of people thought we would close and they came here buying wine and liquor to have for the long run. Eventually, the wine shops and liquor stores were considered essential services and remained open during the pandemic. From March to May, we had an increase in sales, but from the summer when people left for Long Island the traffic went back to normal. From our side, of course, we had additional expenses, because we had to adapt the store in order for both the customers and the staff to be safe,” said Battipaglia.
Finally, the owner of the store, via TNH, thanked the Greek-American community for its timeless support, expressing his happiness for the fact that the company is based in an area like Queens with so much diversity.
More information about Grand Wine and Liquor, 30-05 31st Street in Astoria, is available by phone: 718-728-2520 and online: https://grandliquors.com/.