TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- If you are from Tampa, then the name Ferlita may ring a bell.
The Ferlita’s have been in the Tampa Bay area since the turn of the century after Gaetano Ferlita left Santo Stefano Quisquina for Ellis Island.
“He was looking for a better life,” said Ferlita’s granddaughter, Geraldine Garcia.
Ferlita eventually made his way to Tampa as a bricklayer, building the Tampa Bay hotel, now the site of the University of Tampa but his manual labor job didn’t last long.
“He started his own little wine delivery truck which eventually blossomed into Schlitz distributorship,” said Ferlita’s relative, Pat Companioni.
According to the Ferlita family, the wholesale distributorship was the leading in the country and the only one receiving a consignment of beer by mail without prepayment.
The company eventually sold in 1968 but the family’s journey to the ‘American dream’ wasn’t over. Ferlita’s son, Salvatore made his way into the banking business, opening the Central Bank of Tampa in the late 40s.
Now, because of one man who had endless ambition, the Ferlita family is thriving in Tampa to this very day.
“It’s one man dream that has brought all this family and all this love together,” said Garcia.
On Friday, for the very first time, four generations of the Ferlita’s gathered for a family reunion, one that would have left Gaetano Ferlita beaming with pride, perhaps this is his greatest accomplishment.
“It’s a special day for all of us. It really is,” said Garcia.