18-year-old Modenese, Giuseppe Molinari, opened a small shop near Piazza Grande in 1804. The shop, named "Ditta Giuseppe Molinari", sold spices and cured meats, cheeses, and other groceries. The shop was popular with office workers, podestà, mayors, celebrities, and many others.
The business took off, despite a fire in 1828. Ditta Giuseppe Molinari had such a rush of customers that Molinari sometimes had to borrow goods from other shops to keep up with the demand. Giuseppe eventually passed the business onto his son, Giovanni.