Our story started over 90 years ago with two Italian immigrants and has become a true American success story. Follow our history from then to now.
1917: San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood thrives
Following the great earthquake of 1906, Italian immigrants from the coastal fishing villages along the Gulf of Genoa and the Ligurian Sea began settling in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. The proximity of the area to the Bay was perfect for what they did for a living in Italy – fishing. The mild year-round climate and cool ocean breezes were very similar to those coastal villages in Italy – making the area ideal for something else: salame making. Our Tuscan founders, Peter Domenici and Enrico Parducci, saw an opportunity to bring a taste of their home to the neighborhood and began making salame, just as they did in Italy. Founded in 1917, Columbus, San Francisco Sausage Company as it was known then, started here in a two-room flat, but maintaining perfect temperature for the intricate curing process was absolutely essential. That meant windows were opened. And closed. And opened again. Moving salame from one corner to the next. The humble beginnings of our salame making began to take shape.
1925: 505 Davis Street
We began producing salame for shops in the neighborhood and around the Bay Area – an innovative way to expand our young business. But supplying all of those shops could never be accomplished in the small flat. So in 1925 at 505 Davis Street, we opened our first salumificio, or salame company. Located in San Francisco’s waterfront Produce District, Parducci and Domenici made salame the same way they did in the flat, opening doors and windows to create an ideal environment for curing salame. If you’ve ever been to San Francisco, you’ll know that late in the day, the fog and cool air rolls over the city. This same cool, moist air would bathe the curing rooms, playing a critical role in the drying and aging process.
1930’s: Move into the heart of North Beach
Columbus quickly earned a reputation for authenticity and high quality throughout the Bay Area. With that growing reputation came increased demand for our products. In the midst of the Great Depression and at great risk, the company moved to 447 Broadway Street, in the heart of North Beach.
1946: The family business carries on
After almost 30 years, our original founders, Domenici and Parducci decided to retire and pass the business onto their friends, the Devencenzi brothers - John, Tony, Luis and Victor.
1957: Columbus deal sealed on a back of a napkin
A decade later, the Devencenzi brothers decided to retire and sell the business to six North Beach neighborhood friends and family members, Ernest DeMartini, Felix Gatto, Joseph Nave, Albert Piccetti, John Poletti, and Roy Quilici. Rumor has it that they met for drinks in an old Italian restaurant bar. There they made the decision to buy Columbus and actually signed the deal on a back of a cocktail napkin.
1967: Demand for our Italian delicacies continues to grow
True salame-making takes time and patience…and lots of space to traditionally slow-age our products. To accommodate demand we needed a much larger space, but where? In weighing the considerable risks, we decided to move to a state-of-the-art facility five miles south of San Francisco. Though an untried environment, the new site with its microclimate of ocean and bay breezes almost perfectly mimicked the temperature and humidity of North Beach. Over the course of more than 35 years, this facility has grown to become one of the most sophisticated salame plants in the world.
1974: Deli meats introduced
As our salame became more and more popular, our customers started to ask if we could make deli meats to the same high-quality standards as our salame. What started as a few roast beef items has become a full line of turkey, ham, roast beef and chicken deli meats in a variety of delicious flavors.
We are proud to maintain the traditions, values, passion and inventive spirit that, in a modern and ever-changing world, continue to grow our business and fulfill our dream of bringing Old World salumi to America. We may be a lot bigger than we were in 1917, but despite all the change, the heart of who we are and what we do remains the same. We still use traditional Old World recipes, still source only the finest ingredients and still make the kinds of delicacies for you to share with family and friends.