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The new owners of Aldo’s Coffee Company with their families and founder Aldo Maiorana. (Photo credit: Chris Francescani)

Aldo is leaving, but Aldo’s isn’t going anywhere. 

For all its ambitions, Greenport is a village steeped in tradition, where continuity often trumps change and the most durable local businesses become landmarks. 

After 36 years on Front Street, Greenport legend Aldo Maiorana is retiring, having sold his gourmet coffee shop to four friends who are living and raising their young families on the East End. 

In interviews last week, new owners Joshua Sommer, Taylor Klemm, Scott Rose and Tora Matsuoka said their chief aim is to keep the place exactly the way it is now — save for adding a new loyalty program for frequent customers. 

“He created something that’s amazing,” said Mr. Sommer, head of operations. “He’s a staple in this town and people all over the country know him. What’s important to us is that everybody gets to enjoy what he’s already done. If we change what he has done, and what people love, we’ve messed up. So it’s important for us to keep everyone in this town smiling.”

For the past three weeks, Mr. Maiorana has stayed on to help train his successors in every aspect of the business — from roasting the beans to making his famous biscotti. 

Mr. Klemm, a former Greenport resident, said he’s been “coming to Aldo’s for years.” 

“There’s nothing more authentic in Greenport than drinking Aldo’s coffee,” he said. “So when we saw that it was listed for sale, we knew we had to keep it the same. We didn’t want to turn it into a Starbucks, so it’s a big responsibility for us.” 

The staff employed by Mr. Maiorana will remain in place under the new owners.

Mr. Rose said that the on-site roasting process is challenging but manageable. 

“It’s somewhat complex, but you have to be present — that’s really what it is, he said. “Because we’re doing mostly dark roasts, so there’s a very small window where it goes from dark roast to burnt. So it’s just about being there and being present.”

Mr. Sommer concurred.

“If you’ve been here you notice everybody loves to speak to Aldo,” he said. “Just like he likes to speak to everybody. So saying hi to a person can literally be the difference between a good bean and a burnt bean.” 

Mr. Matsuoka also spoke about Mr. Maiorana with a certain reverence.

“This is truly his creation,” he said. “Everything from the design to the style of coffee, right down to the selection of the beans, the curated blends of coffee that he makes — this is him.”

He said it’s also “really kind of incredible to have a business where the owner is here every day talking with guests. So when we [spoke] with him, the mission was really to keep it exactly as it is, to continue to buy the same beans. That was, I think, very important to him. I think that was the key piece that he was looking for in the next kind of generation of owner.”

Mr. Sommer said the apprenticeships he and his fellow owners are undergoing alongside Mr. Maiorana are vital to carrying on his traditions.

“In order for us to understand how it works, we have to all understand every facet, every little piece of the business and that’s even sitting in the kitchen with Luz [Secaida] and Carolina [Luna] and mixing the dough and rolling the biscotti. We have to learn everything,” he said.

Mr. Rose said that while Mr. Sommer will manage day-to-day operations, all four owners will be involved. 

“We’re in and out throughout the week. Some of us are here every day,” he said. “Someone will be here a couple days a week. It depends on each one’s schedule. And as long as someone’s here doing something, learning something new, I think that’s the key there.”

With his shock of silver hair and disarmingly plain-spoken frankness, it’s hard to miss Mr. Maiorana when you walk into the coffee shop. 

“I really wish them success,” he said during a break from roasting last Friday. “I’m going to help them the best way I can.” 

He said he’s glad the new owners want to maintain what he has built. 

“If there’s something that can make my family — and [when] I’m saying family, I’m talking about all the people that come here — feel at home, I would be happy,” he said.

Born in Sicily and raised in France from the age of 9, Mr. Maiorana moved to Greenport in 1978 after traveling the world. He only learned to speak English after arriving on the North Fork, a transitional period he recalled this week as somewhat frustrating and lonely. During his childhood, he worked for a shoemaker and on a farm while attending school, eventually joining the French Navy at age 18.

He said he’s not the type that’s cut out for retirement, but his wife and son need him. 

“The reason I sold was not because I wanted to sell,” he said. “I’m not running out of here. I’m not a golfer, I don’t go fishing. I don’t ride a bicycle. I don’t watch the news.” 

Eyeballing his interrogator, he only sort of smiled as he added, “And I don’t read the newspaper either.”

He continued, “So, basically, I’m 74 and a half. I need to start taking care of the family. My son needs me [and] my lady has been waiting for me for many years.”

Asked whether he would be returning to Aldo’s as a customer in the years ahead, he was uncertain. 

“I don’t know. It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “This is my life. This is my home. This is my everything.”