American success story packed in a picnic basket



GENERATIONAL— Mario Tagliati (second from left) and Gustavo Cosaro (second from right) founded Moorparkbased Picnic Time Family of Brands. Danny Corbucci, far left, Tagliati’s son-in-law, and Paul Cosaro, far right, Gustavo’s son, now run the family business. Below, Gustavo Cosaro, left and Mario Tagliati opened their wine and cheese shop, Two Gentlemen from Verona, in Woodland Hills in 1975.

GENERATIONAL— Mario Tagliati (second from left) and Gustavo Cosaro (second from right) founded Moorpark-based Picnic Time Family of Brands. Danny Corbucci, far left, Tagliati’s son-in-law, and Paul Cosaro, far right, Gustavo’s son, now run the family business. Below, Gustavo Cosaro, left and Mario Tagliati opened their wine and cheese shop, Two Gentlemen from Verona, in Woodland Hills in 1975.

One of the first, and what he considers most important, life lessons Paul Cosaro learned from his dad was to pursue a career that combined passion with purpose.

The 38-year-old did just that.

He is one of the managing partners of Picnic Time Family of Brands, the Moorpark-based business his father, Gustavo Cosaro, co-founded in 1982 in pursuit of the American dream.

“My why is to ultimately make people happy,” Paul Cosaro said. “When I get up in the morning, that’s why I’m excited to come and work and continue what my dad taught me from a young age.”

Italy to Moorpark

Gustavo Cosaro and Mario Tagliati met in 1971 while traveling from Italy to Miami to work for Royal Caribbean Cruises. They were both assigned to the dining room on the Song of Norway.

The young men, both in their 20s, had survived poverty and orphanages in post-World War II Italy and were determined to achieve success in the United States.

Photos courtesy of Picnic Time

Photos courtesy of Picnic Time

They decided to quit their jobs on the ship and move to Southern California to start their own business together.

“I wanted to come to the United States because I knew I would have the freedom and opportunities to succeed if I worked hard enough,” said Gustavo Cosaro, a West Hills resident. “My dream to raise a family and provide a sense of security for myself and others could become a reality.”

In 1975, they opened Two Gentlemen from Verona, a wine and cheese shop in Woodland Hills. As the shop attracted more and more customers, the duo was repeatedly told: “You have everything for the perfect picnic except the picnic basket.”

So they decided to create their own, and they did so inside Gustavo Cosaro’s garage.

Their picnic baskets eventually became the most sought-after products in their wine and cheese shop. In 1990, they closed Two Gentlemen and moved into Picnic Time Family of Brands’ current warehouse at 5131 Maureen Lane in Moorpark with a new focus.

They wanted to make the perfect picnic basket.

Family business

In addition to Picnic Time, the company is made up of three other brands: Oniva, which specializes in outdoor entertainment supplies; Toscana, which offers indoor entertainment supplies; and Legacy, which makes accessories for people who love beer, wine, and spirits.

Each of the company’s approximately 10,000 products is designed to bring together friends and family in food and celebration.

“Bringing people together to make lasting memories is really what we are all about,” Paul Cosaro said. “That’s what we’ve always been about.”

Paul Cosaro, a Thousand Oaks resident, knows from personal experience just how special moments shared with loved ones are. He said he hopes customers will cherish the memories made with his family’s products.

“The picnic I went on with my significant other, the camping trip I went on with my family, the night I had all my friends over for wine and cheese: those are the things that you look back on and say, ‘I’ve had a great life,’” Paul Cosaro said. “To think that we get the opportunity to provide that chance for people . . . is beyond motivating, and I love it.”

Although Tagliati died in 2016 and 77-year-old Gustavo Cosaro is retired, they serve as the motivation behind each decision Paul Cosaro and his business partner— Danny Corbucci, Tagliati’s son-in-law—make.

The bicycle Tagliati used to ride between the warehouses when monitoring production is even hanging in one of the buildings to remind them of his work ethic.

“The company is based around them and their American dream and what they were able to come from,” Paul Cosaro said. “We, for the past 10 years, have tried to carry that torch but also take it into the next generation.”

Gustavo Cosaro said he has undoubtedly achieved the American dream: The Picnic Time Family of Brands has grown into a multimillion-dollar business that supports approximately 120 employees, several of whom are also immigrants. His biggest accomplishment, however, has been helping customers make a lifetime of memories—and he’s happy that his son is carrying on that legacy.

“I never could have imagined this level of success when I first began,” Gustavo Cosaro said. “I walk around the grounds with a smile on my face thinking of how these products will positively impact people.”