In September, 1981 Toscanini’s was founded by Gus Rancatore and Kurt Jaenicke… and Pearl Morrison, Janet Rosenblatt, Rich Johnston, Diane Depczenski, Pat Johnston, Miriam Stewart, Cornelia Rancatore, Eleanor Rancatore and Mimi Rancatore, all of whom worked for free and made contributions that enabled the undercapitalized ice cream store at 899 Main Street to survive its first year. Donna Muffoletto offered advice and emergency financing.
Eric Edelman, Greg Lum, Bruce Gelber and Nella Villacorte, Mark Halprin and Susan Lennox were our generous and optimistic investors.
We also received invaluable support from the members of Community Builders’ Cooperative who built our store, Lou and Steve Puopolo from E. Puopolo and Son, our plumbers, the White Mountain Ice Cream Machine Co. of Winchendon, Ma. and our accountants at Goodness and Tyler.
Mim Stewart graduated from unpaid “intern” to being our first paid employee. She escaped the ice cream industry to become an art historian.
Kurt is now a surgeon south of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Community Builders Cooperative continues to exist in Union Square, Somerville. They have built all our stores. Steve Puopolo continues as our plumber and his father continues to supervise everything.
Richard Johnston acquired other, bigger clients in his law practice.
Even an 800 square foot ice cream store requires a lot of help in order to get underway. Within the first year Joe Rancatore came from St. Louis to help stabilize things, as did Sally David, another baseball Cardinals fan. Joe eventually left to open Rancatore’s in Belmont and Lexington, Ma.
There is only one “m” in the word “team” and that stands for “Mimi.” Mimi Rancatore is the youngest sister of Gus Rancatore and Joe Rancatore. While they have been laboring away in the chilly walk-in freezers of the ice cream industry, at Toscanini’s and Rancatore’s, after working at the original Steve’s in Somerville she graduated to white tablecloth fine dining. That is as nice as it sounds. She worked at the original Michela’s with Michela Larson, Todd English, Barbara Lynch, Chris Myers and Steve Solomon. She also worked at Clio with Ken Oringer and the young Tony Maws. She worked at Pignoli with Daniele Balliani and Dante de Magistris. She worked at Rialto with Michela Larson, Joanne Chang and Jody Adams and again with Steve Solomon. For a person with an unfinished knowledge of French and Italian she can work her way around a menu and a kitchen. Most of Mimi’s time is taken up with back of the house functions and she is capable of making superb ice cream. Mimi lives high above the Chelsea waterfront, summers in Block Island and enjoys movies and hang-gliding.
Gus Rancatore worked with Mimi at the original Steve’s Ice Cream in Davis Square, Somerville. He started Toscanini’s with Kurt Jaenicke and much help from friends who worried about his future. Gus spends time making ice cream, picking up napkins, training people and picking up more napkins. He reads more than he should and enjoys nighttime ice climbing in New Hampshire.