On Bachelor in Paradise, Joe Amabile comes across as an almost mythical embodiment of the American everyman. Scrappy and charming, he’s the protagonist of every 80s movie.
But is Joe the John Cusak character in “Say Anything?” Or is his life in Chicago more like “Married to the Mob?”
Grocery Store Joe used to be Trader Joe
After high school, Joe Amabile started working at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (or CME).
From the Chicago Tribune:
“Amabile was a member of futures giant CME Group from 2005-2010. He said he clerked there as a teenager and later worked as an equities trader.”
Joe’s ABC bio asserts that he was one of the youngest traders in the exchange’s history. While we couldn’t find anyone else making that specific claim, there is photographic evidence of Joe in the trading pits.
(We didn’t embed that photo because we’re not going to pay for licensing, but do yourself a favor and click that link. We’ll wait.)
In addition to being hilarious, those hand gestures were apparently an important part of the job.
Wait, the trading pits? Like in “Trading Places?” Is Joe Amabile 35 or 55?
We were surprised too, but the transition to electronic trading was slower than we would’ve thought. Most of the pits at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange didn’t close until 2015.
Joe left in 2010, presumably to pursue his passion for produce.
Produce is the Amabile family business, but it’s not the only one
Three generations of Amabiles have been associated with “the Outfit,” also known as the Chicago Mob.
Now, this is Joe’s family and not Joe himself, but we thought it was fair to bring up because:
- It’s a matter of public record that has been covered extensively elsewhere.
- As far as we can tell, Joe has the same degree of separation from the mob as he does from a grocery store.
Joe’s grandfather, Joseph “Joe Shine” Amabile was “a reputed soldier for suburban Outfit [mob] boss Sam Battaglia whom the Tribune identified as the ‘rackets boss of Stone Park.’”
He died in 1976 before Joseph “Grocery Store Joe” Amabile was born.
Stone Park, where Joe Shine worked, is a west Chicago suburb and former organized crime hub. The current Amabile hub is in adjacent Melrose Park.
Grocery Store Joe has spoken about his family’s history before saying, “My father was a police officer. My brother’s a police officer, and I was not raised like that.”
Of course, being in law enforcement and having mob affiliations are not mutually exclusive, especially in Chicago.
In April 2021, Grocery Store Joe’s ex-Melrose Park Police Officer brother John Amabile pled guilty for his involvement in what was described as an “organized-crime, big-time, big-stakes, manipulative gambling operation.” He’s been accused of being a key-player and top agent.
(For reference, Bachelor in Paradise 7 filmed in June. Some of Joe’s episode 1 beach moping may not have been Kendall related.)
This August, John Amabile was sentenced to six months of home confinement.
“In sparing [John] Amabile from prison, U.S. District Judge Martha Pacold said that while it was ‘very aggravating” that Amabile betrayed the public trust placed in him as an officer, his admission of guilt and strong support from his family and friends tipped the balance in his favor.”
While we doubt the person who made the below comment was one of the supporters who showed up at court, it was an interesting peek into how these types of situations are viewed in. Melrose Park.
In 2015, Grocery Store Joe’s uncle James, a Melrose Park Fire Lieutenant, was convicted of extortion in a mob-related case.
Additionally, according to the Chicago Sun Times:
“Over the years, members of the [Amabile] family have donated to political campaigns benefitting Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico — who has presided after a number of scandals and embarrassments within his police department during his many years in office.”
We learned a lot about the Chicago Outfit during our investigation, but we’d need to start a second blog to explain it all. Thankfully, The Gangster Report exists.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of the Joes, Johns, and Jameses in this story, you’re not alone. Untangling the mob is tricky enough, but digging through Illinois business records to evaluate Grocery Store Joe’s claims about the Amabiles’ history in produce required us to construct a family tree.
We wish they would use those fun mob-style nicknames when registering LLCs.
We will refer to our Joe by Grocery Store Joe or GSJ in the next section to try and spare you from the pain we have suffered.
Also, it’s important to note that while Joe was accused of leading a mob of disgruntled females by Brendan, we didn’t find anything to suggest that Grocery Store Joe is involved in the Chicago Outfit. We also didn’t find any evidence that produce delivery is Chicago’s version of waste management.
Enough about the Mob, did Grocery Store Joe ever own a grocery store?
Possibly, but we couldn’t find any hard evidence.
GSJ has mentioned in interviews that, in addition to being a police officer, his father (also named Joe) used to deliver produce to restaurants for the family business. We thought this was a good place to start our research.
We found that a James Amabile used to own “Amabile Wholesale Produce” in the 1980s. This is likely GSJ’s convicted mob extortionist uncle James but, as we said, it can be hard to tell because the Amabiles just use the same three names over and over.
Next, John Amabile owned “Amabile & Sons Produce” from 2011 until it was involuntarily dissolved (went bankrupt?) in February 2018. This John is probably GSJ’s brother, the recently convicted bookie, but could also be GSJ’s uncle. Uncle John would have been 70 in 2011, which is an ambitious age to start a new produce delivery business.
Lastly, another company called “Amabile Truffles” was registered at the same address as Amabile & Sons from 2016 to January 2018 when it was also involuntarily dissolved. This company was owned by a Joseph Anthony Amabile, who could have been GSJ or could have been his father (see above re: names).
It’s possible GSJ worked at Amabile & Sons Produce or was an investor.
However, as Amabile & Sons and Amabile Truffles were both incorporated at the same residential address, it’s unlikely either had the brick and mortar location one would expect from a conventional grocery store.
Furthermore, neither company was still operating by the time Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette started filming in spring of 2018. So, that was a dead end. We’re just showing our work (trust the process.)
Next up, according to a Chicago Tribune interview from September 2018, GSJ’s introductory package for The Bachelorette was actually filmed at a store called Eric’s Food Center. They also called him a part-owner and said,
“Eric’s Food Center was recently sold so ‘Grocery Store Joe’ — a moniker given to him by fans — is without a grocery store, but he said he’s still a produce buyer.”
No shade to the Tribune, but we were unable to independently corroborate any of the ownership information.
In fact, if Grocery Store Joe (or any other Amabile) had any connection whatsoever to the Eric who owned Eric’s Food Center in 2018, the internet doesn’t know about it.
Maybe they’re just very discrete. However, we could also see a scenario where GSJ had been working in wholesale produce delivery, but production didn’t like any of the filming locations from his real life and found a local independent grocery store where he could film his intro package instead. And, thus, Grocery Store Joe was born.
We’re not saying that’s what happened, but it would explain why Grocery Store Joe only ever talks about produce and never any of the rest of the departments in a grocery store.
And also why, while Grocery Store Joe frequently promotes his current ventures on Instagram, we didn’t find a single picture of the grocery store he supposedly owned in the history of his social media.
If this scenario were true–and again, we do not have a smoking gun here, just a lack of evidence for the official ABC story–we don’t blame GSJ at all for going along with it when the alternative was pissing off the producers and ending up billed as a “Former Tomato Fondler” or something.
What does Grocery Store Joe do now?
We didn’t expect this to be a 2 part series, we swear. It’s just that once again one of our investigations went completely off the rails. In the past few months we’ve investigated the mercenary militarization of anti-poaching in Africa, cryptocurrency pyramid schemes, a health coach certifying program with suspicious recruitment plans, and now the Chicago Mob. If you’ve enjoyed any of our work, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram—it really helps us get the word out!