Sisters Attribute Business Success To Fresh Quality Seafood

HAMMOND, LA (AP) — The Hammond French Market has been a family-owned restaurant for three generations, and co-owner Rosemarie Graziano says she hopes it continues for many more.

         "It's so important that it's like another family member," Graziano said in a recent interview. "Now it's a third generation business, and we want to maintain our reputation."

         Graziano's uncle, Ben Moschitta entered the seafood business in 1932. He started out transporting seafood from the New Orleans French Market to Hammond where he sold it from his truck. Eventually, he began renting out space until he was able to build his own building. In the early 1940s, the Hammond French Market opened on 109 N. Cypress St. When Moschitta retired, Graziano's other uncle, Joe Moschitta, and her parents, Benny and Marie Moschitta, took over.

         As a little girl spending time helping in the market, Graziano would imagine owning the family business one day.

         "I guess I always wanted to own it," she said.

         In 1997, Graziano and her sister Paula Simmons finally got their turn to run the market.

         "When my dad got ready to retire, we decided to take over the business," Graziano said. "We grew up in here. That's why taking over came so easy."

         The sisters agree the business has lasted this long because of the quality of their seafood. A variety of fresh and local caught seafood is delivered to the market daily. During the fall season, oysters are a big ticket item at the market, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

         Late winter and early spring keep the market busy with crawfish season, and summer yields large quantities of shrimp sales. Graziano says the Lenten season is also a strong sales booster for the business.

         The Hammond French Market also does company catering and sells a variety of soups and seafood gumbo.

         One thing the market may consider bringing back is the oyster bar. Both sisters have fond memories of sitting there and eating raw oysters off the shell.

         The French Market has eight employees including six oyster shuckers. Graziano's father, Benny, and husband, Wayne, also help out on a regular basis. During busy seasons, Simmons' daughter, Valerie Barron, will also work there.

         Although the family is not sure who will inherit the business, they are optimistic for future success.

         "Considering the business has been here all this time, I see it continuing to grow. Especially with all our dedicated and loyal customers," Graziano said.

         The Hammond French Market is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5:15 and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

         – by AP/ Reporter Tori Pajares with The Daily Star

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