Named after the town in Northern Italy where he was born and raised, Giustino Maestranzi immigrated to America in the early 1920s. He came to America to find work in order to provide for his wife, six sons, and one daughter. They had remained home in the small town of Giustino, which is located in the far Northern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige.
After spending some time at Ellis Island, Giustino, with little knowledge of America and no knowledge of the English language, made his way to Chicago and began to work the only trade he ever knew and excelled at-knife sharpening.
Known as a Moleta (Northern Italian word for knife sharpener), Giustino used horse drawn wagons and even a bicycle to transport his grindstone to local restaurants and grocery stores to sharpen knives.
Business began to grow and in 1927 two of his six sons, Bartolo and Theodore, boarded a ship and headed to America. After two weeks at sea Bartolo and Theodore docked at Ellis Island. Just fourteen and fifteen years old at the time, Bartolo and Theodore were given their American names, Ben and Ted. They made their way to Chicago to help build the business with their father.
Years went by and business continued to grow. Trucks replaced the horse drawn wagons and the opportunity to cover a greater area of Illinois emerged. By the late 1930s, Giustino returned home to Italy and two more of his sons came to join their brothers. "Maestranzi Brothers Knife Company" was officially formed.
During the 1940s World War II was in full stride and the four brothers, three now married to Italian American women, began to have families of their own. More "Moleti" were born. 1945 brought the end of World War II and the birth of Bartolo Maestranzi II (son of Ben & Madelyn Maestranzi).
As the sons of the Maestranzi Brothers grew up, they all worked with their fathers and uncles. After school, on the weekends, and every summer they were taught the skill of sharpening a knife and the importance of customer service. At the end of the 1950s, the time came when the brothers and their growing families decided to go their separate ways. Ben Maestranzi, along with the youngest brother Luigi, went on to open "The Chicago Grinding Company".
The 1960s arrived and Bartolo II had become a fine Moleta. He was the third generation and very skilled in supplying a high quality product along with exceptional customer service. Expanding on the skills his father Ben taught him, Bartolo II focused on every establishment that dealt with the world’s largest necessity, FOOD. Whether it was Italian, Spanish, Greek, Mexican, or Asian, restaurant or grocery store, it did not matter to Bartolo II. As long as they were serving or preparing food, they needed sharp knives to do it!
In 1964, Bartolo II fell in love and in 1965 he married Alexa Lupori. Wasting no time, in 1966 Bartolo III (Bart Jr.) was born. 1967 brought them their first daughter, Gina. Their second son, Vincent, was born in 1970. In December of 1971, their second daughter Maria was born and just like that Bart and Alexa had four children.
Just like his grandfather and father before him, Bart II worked hard day and night to provide for his family. By 1975, Bart Jr. began riding along with his father as he ran his daily routes. In 1978, Vince joined in and alternated with his older brother riding with dad and learning the business. Every weekend and each summer the two boys became older and wiser in the ways of the Moleta. Each year they moved forward with the technology that became available and would better their father’s company. They both joined their father full time after college and brought the company to the next level of excellence.
In 2000, Bart Jr. and Vince became the fourth generation owners of the family business. Now joined by their brother-in-law of more than 18 years, the brothers have re-acquired the original name that was created by their grandfather and three great uncles more than 75 years ago,
"Maestranzi Brothers Chicago Grinding and Supply, LLC".
Today Maestranzi Brothers services over 4000 restaurants and major grocery establishments in four states: Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa. The business has 22 employees and sharpens over 10,000 knives per day. Maestranzi Brothers has fourth generation owners and is over 90 years old, but still sharpens knives the same way their great grandfather did in 1925…by hand!