SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Scotch Plains community is mourning not only the closure of Florence Ravioli on Park Avenue Saturday, but also the death of Ralph Losanno, whose grandparents founded the business in 1943 and moved it to Scotch Plains in 1968.
It's a double hit for fans of the iconic Scotch Plains store, which Losanno ran for many years. Florence and Raphael Losanno emigrated from Italy nearly a century ago and opened their original store in Newark. They ran it there for 25 years before setting up shop at 1741 East 2nd St. in Scotch Plains, where Anthony and Mary Ann Losanno took it over. The store became famous locally for its homemade square-shaped ravioli and heat-and-serve Italian specialty items. Eventually, Florence Ravioli moved to 391 Park Ave., where Ralph and his wife, Cindy, ran it.
Related: Ralph Losanno obituary
Les Turchin and his mother, Laurel DeFellipo Turchin, bought the store from the Losannos three years ago. The store had a loyal following, but not enough to sustain it long term. COVID took its toll as people stayed home for much of 2020 and, despite community efforts to support local businesses last spring, the new owners couldn't keep it going.
Laurel told TAPintoSPF that she was thankful for the customers who supported her and is trying to figure out her next steps. A successful real estate agent, that career took a back seat as she devoted herself to trying to keep the business going. She said that the business had done well with its set up at the Scotch Plains Farmers Market last summer and is considering a return, perhaps under a different name like "Flo to Go" or "Joey Stromboli." It's also a possibility that she would try to build a catering business if she could find the right set up.
What seems to excite Laurel most is doing online instructional videos in which she would share Italian recipes and spice up the class with humorous stories about her life and family. Laurel developed an internet following during the pandemic with her frenetic and funny videos touting "Survival Dinners," stromboli, pizza kits, and her Tommy The Turkey Platter. What makes her so endearing is her authenticity and sense of humor.
"Mike Marino told me I could have a future in comedy. I'm thinking about it. I have done stand up; in fact, I hosted a fundraiser that quickly sold out," she said. "I think I could do something — maybe even a show. Look for me on the internet.... Just keep searchin' for Laurel Turchin!"