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updated: 1/30/2013 9:17 PM

Dominic Stramaglia of Itasca honored by Italian Cultural Center

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Casa Italia

The Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia is proud to announce that its 2013 Man of the Year will be Dominic Stramaglia. Entrepreneur, community leader and philanthropist; Dominic embodies the true spirit of the Italian Cultural Center. He is a man who came to America, bringing with him all the best attributes which Italy has to offer; his love of family, his keen intellect and his determined spirit.

Dominic Stramaglia was born in Bari, Italy, in 1946. The Stramaglia family traveled across the Atlantic Ocean on the Andrea Doria in 1954, landing at Ellis Island. Little did Dominic know then, how important a role the oceans, and especially seafood, would later play in his life. Here they were met by his maternal grandparents, Pasquale and Maria Favia, who had come to America in 1910. They traveled by train to Illinois and settled in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood, near Taylor and Racine. There they were joined by their cousins, the Straziota Family and other like-minded Italians, who had recently made the voyage to America.

A graduate of both Our Lady of Pompeii Elementary School and Holy Cross High School in Chicago, Dominic became a man strong in faith and generous in spirit. Even as a child, he always helped with his family's bills by working at various jobs, such as stocking shelves at grocery stores, selling newspapers and shining shoes. As a sign of his humbleness and a warm memory of the past; one of his prize possessions today is still his original shoe shine box. Dominic says, "The Lord has been good to me. So, as my business has grown, we have always tried to give back". He continues to help support Children's Memorial Hospital, Mayo Clinic, his alma mater The Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans and Casa Italia; to name just a few.

As Dominic matured he married and had two children; John and Laura. He continued to work hard and moved into several different fields, until finally he was approached by two friends with a concept on wholesale distribution of live lobsters from Boston. This was the beginning of the Supreme Lobster vision, which began in 1973. At the age of 28, he made a life-changing decision to be an active partner in Supreme Lobster and in 1974 the company was officially in business. Through endless dedication and countless hours of hard work, he took a small scale lobster distributor in Chicago, to a full line seafood distributor that today serves the U.S., coast to coast.

Always the innovator, Dominic Stramaglia's first lobster holding tank was a child's swimming pool, which due to a faulty compressor produced less than stellar results. Or as he tells the story in his own words, "I returned to the 2,000 square foot storage facility the morning after the delivery of 1,000 pounds of live lobsters, only to find that "90% of our first shipment was doing the back-stroke". He learned very quickly after that incident, that the seafood business was not as easy as it looked. Undaunted, he used his sharp wit and found a way to get his first freezer without the high cost of purchasing one. He simply became a Jefferson ice "distributor"; discarding the bags of ice and utilizing the case to keep leftover fresh seafood frozen. Supreme Lobster has surely come a long way since its modest beginning.

In 1980, he moved to his well-known location on North Avenue in Villa Park, with a full service retail store, and 100,000 square feet of warehouse and office space; complete with 75,000 square feet of freezers. Since 1987 Supreme Lobster has been a major player in Las Vegas, supplying all the predominant hotels and restaurants there. Dominic jokes that now he only works half days; "6:30 AM until 6:30 PM". Anyone who knows him knows he eats and sleeps seafood, with his never settle attitude. His philosophy is "If I can't take it home and eat it; I will not sell it. Quality and service have always been #1 for me".

About 15 years ago, recognizing the consumer's interest in readily accessible frozen fish at home, he created Supreme Choice his label which consistently provides good quality frozen fish. This product line can readily be found at the majority of grocery stores. Add to this his more than 100 trucks and locations in Las Vegas; Racine, Wisconsin; and Indianapolis, Indiana, and you can see why Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company has become the largest seafood distributor in the Midwest and beyond.

Given Dominic's humble beginnings, rise to the top of his field, embrace of his heritage and continued generosity to those in need; The Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia is honored to name Dominic Stramaglia our 2013 Man of the Year. Please join with us in our celebration at his award dinner on February 16, 2013. For information and reservations you can contact our office for details at 708-345-5933.