Name: Viviano Brothers Macaroni Company

Alternate Names: Chicago Macaroni Company (1919-1968)

Viviano Connection: Pietro (1912-36), Salvatore (1912-13), Giovanni (1912-30), Giuseppe (1912-28)

Years Active: 1900-1968

Cause of Closure: ​mismanagement

Address: 2170 S. Canalport Ave, Chicago

Building Current Use: ​Artist Lofts

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, European immigration to America boomed. Native Italians craved the cuisine of their native land. While the Viviano brothers opened their macaroni company in Chicago, most Italians preferred their pasta imported straight from Italy. However, when World War I began, such imports were no longer accessible and American macaroni companies flourished.

The five-story, red brick factory, which still stands today, stretches over five lots, adjacent to rail lines. The elaborate entrance is framed by classical elements and limestone plaques bearing the inscription “Viviano Brothers Macaroni Company / Founded 1900.” In the early 1900s, the neighborhood, known as Pilsen, was home to several small companies, bakeries, and sausage factories.[i]


The year “1900” on the Chicago factory likely refers to the founding of a grocer in St. Louis. Family stories recount that the four Viviano brothers followed their cousins to St. Louis and bought grocery store and each operated a different part of the business. The second eldest, Salvatore (1867-1959), opened a grocer which produced fresh macaroni, a product that soon dominated sales. Understanding the potential in pasta, Vito headed to Detroit, while Pietro, Giovanni, and Giuseppe headed to Chicago to open their own factories. Salvatore stayed behind in St. Louis until 1912.[ii] However, he began to receive threats from the “Black Hand,” an extortionist network in the city and moved to Chicago with his brothers.[iii]

In 1912, Salvatore Viviano (1876-1959) merged S. Viviano & Bros Company with the Viviano Brothers Macaroni Company.[iv] [It is unclear whether Salvatore began his own company in Chicago for two years or if S. Viviano & Brothers was a hold over from St. Louis. Within a few years, Salvatore would join Vito in Detroit and, ultimately, move to Western Pennsylvania to start his own business, the Viviano Macaroni Company, which he operated from 1917 until his death.[v]

The labor movement was active in 1917, when the Ladies’ Garment Workers and bakery drivers went on strike in April. Following suit, eight hundred macaroni workers from Viviano Brothers and Anthony Morici & Company quit their jobs, demanding a wage increase from 30 cents an hour ($6.16 in 2021 dollars) to 35 cents (about $7.19).[vi] One-hundred seventy-five more workers from ten Chicago macaroni factories walked out the next month.[vii]


Within 20 years, the Viviano family had built one of the largest factories in the country and were renowned for their quality products.[viii] However, “Chicago became somewhat unsettling for business, to say the least, because of the underworld” Joseph Viviano explained in a 1980 profile. In 1928, the Viviano Brothers Macaroni Company of Chicago merged with A. Morici Co. and Giuseppe Matalone.[ix]

The new owners, the Morici brothers, called the new entity the Chicago Macaroni Factory. The Morici brothers, Antonio and Agostino, had ties to the Genna mob family. The brothers would sell pasta making supplies, such as sugar and yeast, to the mob in order to produce alcohol during Prohibition. These mob ties lead to all sorts of criminal activity on the part of the Moricis, including being coerced into fronting money for the Genna legal fees. When the Moricis declined, they were murdered.[x] The murder was never solved. However, Antonio and Agostino’s brother assumed management and ownership responsibilities of the macaroni company. He continued to be the target of anonymous violence.[xi]


By 1930, the modest factory had grown substantially. The building and land were valued at $600,000 ($9.5 million in 2021 dollars), employed 300 people, and had a daily output of 150,000 pounds of pasta, made in 82 varieties. The quality of the product and modern equipment supported to their significant contribution to popularizing pasta in Chicago and beyond.[xii]

However, the Chicago Macaroni Company was continuously plagued by mismanagement, leading to legal battles. The company was charged with underpaying working, mislabeling products, and not keeping up with inspections, which resulted in one worker being killed by a malfunctioning elevator.[xiii]

Finally, the Chicago Macaroni Company closed its doors in 1968. Salad Oil International bought the assets of the company at this time. They still use the same label design as the Chicago Macaroni Company, paying homage to another Italian family legacy in the Windy City.[xiv]


In 2008, the Pilsen Historic District was established, including the Chicago Macaroni Company building.[xv] The factory has most recently been transformed into artist lofts.[xvi] An exterior mural by Lauren Asta celebrates the macaroni history of the building.[xvii] One tenant is Gertrude, global innovation, brand development, advertising, and marketing services consultancy. Gertrude embraced the industrial heritage of the factory for their Chicago headquarters.[xviii]

The preservation of the historic buildings throughout the Pilsen neighborhood is due to the Mexican immigrants who settled in the area in the 1950s. In 2019, efforts began to create landmark preservation ordinances. In late 2020, the efforts were squashed as the preservation efforts did not promote equity, nor support the racial and cultural diversity of the neighborhood.[xix]

Further Reading

Italian-American History of Chicago

Taylor Street, In the Vicinity of Maxwell and Halsted Streets, Chicago 1890-1930, University of Illinois, Chicago, 2017

Sources & Footnotes

[i] “Pilsen Historic District – National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.” December 13, 2008. (copy of document obtained by author)

[ii] Viviano, Joe. Personal Interview by Ali Kane via Phone. October 11, 2018.

[iii] Pittsburgh of Today by Frank C. Harper, 1931 (obtained digitally from

[iv] “A New Corporation.” April 19, 1912. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (obtained May 13, 2018 from & “Viviano Quits Under Threats of Violence.” February 27, 1912. The St. Louis Star. Page 2. (obtained May 14, 2018 from

[v] Pittsburgh of Today by Frank C. Harper, 1931 (obtained digitally from

[vi] “Strike Called off by Garment Workers’ Union.” April 24, 1917. Chicago Tribune. Page 12. (obtained March 31, 2021 from &

[vii] “Macaroni Workers Strike Against Ten Chicago Firms.” May 8, 1917. Chicago Tribune. (obtained May 7, 2018).

[viii] Announcement. May 17, 1919. The Chicago Eagle. Page 8. (obtained March 14, 2021 from Genealogy Bank)

[ix] “What’s Pasta is Prologue” September 3, 2014. WTTW News. (obtained May 3, 2018 from

[x] “What’s Pasta is Prologue” September 3, 2014. WTTW News. (obtained May 3, 2018 from

[xi] “Hunt Four Who Wounded Wife of Merchant.” October 24, 1934. Chicago Tribune. Page 14. (obtained March 31, 2021 from

[xii] “Italian Industries in Chicago.” June 1930. Chicago Italian Chamber of Commerce (copy of document obtained by author)

[xiii] “What’s Pasta is Prologue” September 3, 2014. WTTW News. (obtained May 3, 2018 from

[xiv] “Our Story” Salad Oils International Corporation. (obtained May 3, 2018 from

[xv] “Pilsen Historic District – National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.” December 13, 2008. (copy of document obtained by author)

[xvi] Lacuna Lofts website:

[xvii] Asta, Lauren. “Lacuna Artist Lofts Exterior Mural.” October 26, 2016 Lauren Asta Blog. (obtained March 31, 2021 from Lauren

[xviii] “A Mid-Century Modern Innovation Gallery.” (obtained March 31, 2021 from:

[xix] Blasius, Elizabeth and Zach Mortice. “How a Plan to Save Buildings Fell Apart.” April 8, 2021. Bloomberg CityLab. (obtained April 12, 2021 from