Mastroianni Brothers Bakery has baked its last loaf of bread, at least for now.
The Rotterdam-based bakery, which had been in business since 1923, shut down operations after years of declining sales, CEO Warren Zeiser announced Tuesday morning. In January, the company’s board of directors chose to sell the bakery, Zeiser said. However, a deal with a potential buyer fell through last week, and the board decided last Friday to shut the business down.
Zeiser took over as CEO in July 2015, after years of financial losses. During his time in charge, the company re-branded and began selling new items, including smaller loaves of bread and whole grain products to appeal to more customers.
Ultimately, Zeiser said, one year was “not even close” to enough time to fix the struggling company.
“We had a plan and we had a great plan,” Zeiser said. “But we couldn’t spend money to execute the turnaround.”
Fifty-two people were employed at the bakery, Zeiser said, calling the conversations with each of them about its closing “extremely difficult.” Zeiser said he’s unsure what will happen to the building, located on Opus Boulevard.
Zeiser said he’s personally interested in purchasing the bakery to resurrect the operation. He said he’s been speaking with investors to get a group together to do so, but added that he’s unsure if there’s enough time to make it work.
Mastroianni Bakery was founded in 1923 by eight Mastroianni brothers, and is known for its brick-oven baked kosher loaves of bread, rolls and pizza dough. In 2008, after CEO Armond Mastroianni died, the company was passed off to employee Bill Busacker, who served as president for seven years.
The bakery’s closing leaves a hole in the market, said Jennifer Felitte, general manager of the Niskayuna Co-Op, one of many local stores to sell Mastroianni products.
“It has a strong following, there are people who come in specifically looking for that bread,” she said. “We have people who specifically come here because we’re local and that’s a local product that they love.”
Felitte said as of Tuesday afternoon, the co-op had about 12 packages of various Mastroianni rolls and breads left. It will remain fresh and on shelves for the next couple days, she said, or until consumers buy what’s left.
A Mastroianni sales representative was at the co-op last week, Felitte said, so the bakery’s closing came as a surprise. She said she hopes another local bakery will step up to fill the void left by Mastroianni.
Standing in front of empty conveyor belts and large ovens on Tuesday, Zeiser thanked the bakery’s partners and “insanely loyal customers.” Mastroianni products were available at stores such as Price Chopper, Hannaford, Whole Foods and other local shops.
Zeiser also expressed appreciation for The Flavor of Schenectady, a coalition of local food manufacturers that’s been working to promote and celebrate locally made food in the area. Other members include Casa Visco Sauces, Sindoni Sausage and Pede Bros Pasta. Zeiser helped launch Flavor of Schenectady last October.
The last day of operation at the bakery was Friday, Zeiser said, and the last day of delivery was Sunday.
“Any die-hard fans might want to get to the store and buy a loaf to put in the freezer,” Zeiser said.
Outside the bakery, there were still signs of the business’ recent activity. A few trucks were parked along the road, marked with the Mastroianni Brothers Bakery logo, and having made their final deliveries.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27.