December 17, 1962
Born into a poor family of tailors in Bari, Italy, John Flora came to America December 17, 1962 in search of a dream. Arriving at the age of 10 impoverished and speaking no English, Mr. Flora grew up in the predominately Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, New York.
Growing up, John was always fascinated with electricity, mathematics and machines, so he decided to pursue an education in Electrical Engineering. While in school, Mr. Flora began working at Villa Cucci Italian Bakery. In a neighborhood where dough and flour overflowed the streets, pizza parlors could be found on every corner of Brooklyn.
Flora's Drive-In 1972
While vacationing in Miami Beach, John realized the most difficult thing to find in the Sunshine State was a decent slice of pizza. His cousin told him of a piece of property in Miami, and it was that piece of property that started the journey. John purchased the little piece of land on 79th and Flagler Avenue, where he opened a pizza parlor, Flora’s Drive-In, in 1972.
Real "New York Italian Food" 1974
It was that small, pizza parlor that help open up Flora’s Italian Restaurant in Hollywood in 1974, where he met his wife, Irene. The restaurant’s notoriety grew rapidly and was known by locals and tourists as the place for “real New York Italian” food. John’s large personality, self-taught cooking style and authentic Italian ingredients kept the crowds buzzing about his sauce, and the fresh ingredients he put into his food. His competition took note, and restaurants from all over were asking Mr. Flora for his tomatoes.
The Demand Began
Without any hesitation, Mr. Flora began importing Italian tomatoes and supplying restaurateurs from all over the South Florida market out of the back of his restaurant. Cooks from Miami to West Palm were lining up at the backdoor of this small, Hollywood restaurant to get their tomatoes. The biggest problem John had was space. He started by keeping them in his restaurant, but later moved them into his house. After the demand grew, John drained his pool and housed his tomatoes in there.
Out with the Old, In With the New
Realizing there was no Italian food suppliers in South Florida and wanting his pool back, John decided to sell the restaurant and open his first warehouse in 1976 in Riviera Beach.
The Rest Is History
After 40 years in business, Flora Fine Foods’ headquarters resides in Coral Springs. Home to a 60,0000 square foot distribution facility, Flora Fine Foods provides the most authentic and quality Italian imports to Publix, Winn-Dixie and Wegman’s. If It’s Italian…It’s Flora.