Everyone in South Brooklyn knows the politically powerful Scotto family and everyone knows they own a Funeral Parlor on Court (Buddy Scotto's domain) and used to own Scotto Wines, the liquor shop that still bears their name.
But does anyone know that the Scottos used to be South Brooklyn movie moguls? In the fall issue of Overflow, a new giveaway magazine serving brownstone Brooklyn, former City Council candidate John Heyer (!) has authored a piece on the Mom and Pop shops of Court Street. In the piece, he uncovers a lot of mysteries that have puzzled my head for some time.
The four Scotto brothers—Patsy, Frank, Dominic and Anthony—came over from Italy at the turn of the 20th century. They embarked on the wine biz, but were put out of business by Prohibition. So they started opening movie theatres.
They had four cinemas at there peak, two of which still function: the Borough Hall (now the UA Theater) and the Lido (now the Cobble Hill movie theater). The others were the Paris Court and the Gloria, which are now the AMICO daycare center (see above) and a CVS (below). I have been wondering what the overly grand AMICO building used to be for more than a decade.
I learned other things from the article as well. I know that some longstanding Court Street businesses, like Monteleone Bakery, have their roots in the formerly busy commercial area around Union and Columbia, but moved after the BQE cut that area off from civilization. Well, that was the case for more businesses than I thought. Among the shops that once lived west of the BQE: Gloria's Florist, Mastallone's Italian Deli, Natoli Photo Studios, G. Esposito and Sons Pork Stores.
Thanks, Heyer. I didn't vote for you, but you're not a bad historian.