The Fruit Stand
If there’s anything the Cosentino’s are most proud of, it’s their humble beginnings. The family patriarch, Dante Cosentino Sr., was a talented artist who made a living painting frescos in Catholic churches around Kansas City. One day, in 1948, while out and about on Blue Ridge Boulevard, he saw a fruit stand for sale. He knew two of his sons, Jim and Jerry, who were returning from the war would need something to help them reacclimate to civilian life. So he bought the fruit stand, putting all of his savings and mortgage into it. “He made a huge risk, but believed in his children’s ability to get the job done!” Kyli Cosentino Maddox, Community Relations Director and Dante Sr.'s great-granddaughter, said.
“That first year they faced a great deal of challenges. I have been told that the support of the community was so very present during those hard times and became essential as the years went on,” Kyli said. “The customers and community members have always been like family to us. I think it’s a testament to the first generation’s ability to form life-long relationships from the very beginning.”
Over the years, that fruit stand turned into a full fledged grocery store, followed by numerous locations throughout the metro area, adding their first Brookside location in 2000. The Brookside Market opened in 2004 and went on to win a national award in 2005 for store design.
Connections with Customers
The grocery store has been the backdrop of the Cosentino family for all of Khara and Kyli’s lives. “I remember walking through the stores with my grandfather, Dante, at a young age,” Kyli said. “To me he was just my grandfather, the best guy I knew and someone who meant a great deal to me, and during those visits to the store it was clear he also meant a great deal to many others too. Everyone was always so very happy to see him. He had a mutual respect for others and a pride in providing the best for his customers. He was a loyal, solid, generous man and a good listener.”
That kind of connection to customers is what the Cosentino family is all about. “Our employees are like family too,” Khara said.
Brookside Store Director Gary Arb has worked with the Cosentino family for 25 years. “The Cosentinos are an amazing family,” he said. “They treat employees like family. They’re a lot bigger now than when they started.”
All in the Family
They’ve been a family business for 70 years. Many members of the family have worked at the store throughout high school and some even went on to work for corporate. “But we all started out bagging groceries or loading shelves,” Khara said. “It’s almost a family rite of passage.”
“We grew up watching our grandpa, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. run the business,” Kyli said. “I love hearing the stories about the company’s inception. Sometimes I’m struck with awe when I walk into a store like Brookside. I never knew my great-grandfather, but I like to visualize him walking into that store, face just beaming with pride due to all his children and grandchildren accomplished through sheer determination and dedication.”
Kyli always dreamed of ending up working in the family business. She joined the Cosentino Food Stores team two years ago as the Community Relations Director. She helps run the Cosentino’s Charity Foundation, which aims to support and give back to the community that has been incredibly loyal and imperative from the start.
Khara Cosentino joined the corporate team 10 years ago as the Marketing Director. Before joining the family business, she ran her own tanning salon in Brookside and lived in Brookside for seven years.
“I love that all the people know each other and are so kind,” Khara said. “I’m on the CID board and I love that all the businesses support each other, and have a joint goal of helping each other be the best so that we can create the best community possible.”
Kyli and Khara both said that the best part and the most challenging part about their jobs is working with family. “It’s a lot of fun to work with your family, but it also can be hard at times because you are working with your family,” Khara said.
Today, Cosentino’s Food Stores is led by the second generation of Cosentino’s, headed by: Donnie, David, Victor, Jamie, Jimmy, and John Cosentino.
Meet Cosentino’s Brookside Market Store Director, Gary Arb
Gary Arb’s office is over 10,000 square feet. “It’s the deli wall to the bakery to the check out lines to the freezer section,” Gary said, pointing in every direction.
“I love working with people,” Gary said. “I have to always be available and patient. My job is a lot of taking care of customers and making sure the products and the store look good.”
Gary said he’s loved watching Brookside grow into a real neighborhood. “Brookside is unique. It’s like a big neighborhood social event; everyone is friendly, including other store owners. It’s the kind of place where when you fire up the grill, your friends smell meat cooking and come over with food and drinks.”