Where things begin is as important as where they end up. The connection between those points is the essence of the origin story. When the players in such a tale embrace that idea, it makes the tale all the richer and gives it life beyond any natural conclusion.
“Since the age of 14, my father, George, worked as an apprentice in his brother’s cabinet shop, specializing in the production of furniture. In 1990 he started his own cabinet shop, building custom kitchens, vanities and wall units” Leo Cacciatore recalls “As a kid growing up, I would spend my summers working at the shop, staining kitchens cabinetry, closets and learning everything I could.”
Flash forward to the bustling streets of Lynbrook, the waterfront village of Stony Brook, ancient barns across rural America, a buzzing workshop in Bellmore, dining rooms and living rooms and kitchens across Long Island, and this story’s next chapter is being written by Cacciatore’s Rustic Loft. When he speaks, the relationship with the materials or the people for whom he and his team make their custom hardwood furniture, his passion is evident. One cannot help feel how embraces the idea that the time spent to learn a craft is forever intertwined with future creations, that the past informs the future every step of the way.
“In 2017 we started talking about the possibility of opening up a showroom showcasing all the different types of furniture we could build,” he says of the moment the concept for The Rustic Loft came to life. “We weren’t really sure whether to have it based on a theme or to just have all different types of styles available. After discussions with friends and family and through watching HGTV, we learned there was a high demand for rustic farm tables.
“We built a few to really fine-tune the manufacturing process. I posted them on social media and people just loved them. We decided to go for it.” He signed the lease for the Lynbrook location, renovated the place, and then went ahead and built pieces to fill the showroom. “My family was the biggest support,” he notes, “as initially this was a risk and we were going to have to live without my income for a while.”
The concept of family is apparent at every turn, stemming from those days learning at his father’s hand. It is essential, though Cacciatore does not say this overtly. He does not need to. It is right there in his own narrative. “Before she joined us full-time, my sister worked as a digital and media design strategist at Discover Long Island and would come work weekends, helping customers as well as developing our logo, digital presence and all media-related advertising. My wife, who was a full-time nurse, would work her days off at the showroom.
“My father, nothing less than a creative genius, designed many of the different styles we manufacture, and my mother would help with the book-keeping. Even my kids got involved. My daughter took an interest in design and would follow me around at the shop and showroom and learn everything she could. My son would help me with physical labor and even deliveries so I could keep costs low during the initial startup phase.”
If one played word association with Cacciatore, there’s a sense that almost every answer he’d give would be collaboration. Even the name of the business itself was a group effort. “We had a few different ideas for names initially. I wanted something that was conceptual to the theme of farm tables, yet versatile enough so that we could evolve with the styles. I also wanted to emphasize that it was American made. I came up with a few ideas and ran it through family and friends, and even did a group vote with the team at the Emergency Medical Company of Lynbrook Fire department, which I volunteer for. Everyone loved the name The Rustic Loft.”
That back-and-forth, the sharing of thoughts and visions and concepts, extends to every piece he and his team create. That, and the challenge, is the real thrill.
“I had a customer bring me an odd-sized wine fridge to fit in a corner perfectly. I had to literally do trigonometry to create the optimal piece to fit in perfectly all while ensuring the fridge fit in nicely to the cabinet,” Cacciatore says. “To this day that concept has inspired myself as well as many other customers to have similar pieces built. Another one is a wet bar we recently built, with a custom fridge built in and sized with the ability to fit a sink faucet and power a wine fridge. I really enjoy these types of projects, as they are challenging and really bring out our creative and analytical skills.
Equally rewarding is the process of giving new life to the reclaimed materials The Rustic Loft sources. Oak, maple and other wood that otherwise would have been lost to the ravages of time once again finds beauty and purpose. Naturally, Cacciatore doesn’t go about finding these materials alone, and the collaboration (there’s that word again) goes hand-in-hand with the same kind of exacting attention to detail in his associates that he demands of himself.
“We partnered with an Amish family of woodworkers who salvaged oak from old barns built in the 1800s out in Walnut Creek, Ohio. I watched how they would take apart the barns, plank by plank, run the beams through a metal detector to mark the nails for removal. Then they would kiln the wood to the optimal moisture level for furniture manufacturing.
“It is ingrained in their culture to value their resources and respect the history associated with it,” he adds. “With our reclaimed oak tables, it is really incredible to think that the very wood used to make the table was part of a barn right in our homeland. It truly is putting a piece of American history in your home.” And so the story continues…
The Rustic Loft: 420 Sunrise Hwy in Lynbrook, 97K Main Street at Stony Brook Village Center, and therusticloft.net.