Break bread with Mastroianni, which is returning to shelves

Available immediately at Price Chopper/Market 32 stores
Jeivan Castro of Schenectady takes bread from the oven at Mastroianni Bros. Bakery in Rotterdam in 2015.
Jeivan Castro of Schenectady takes bread from the oven at Mastroianni Bros. Bakery in Rotterdam in 2015.

SCHENECTADY — Mastroianni Bros. Bakery bread, sold locally for 93 years, is coming back to store shelves in the Capital Region.

Former Mastroianni CEO Warren Zeiser, of Niskayuna, a consultant to the new owners, announced Thursday that Mastroianni sliced bread and soft rolls will be available immediately at Price Chopper/Market 32 stores in the Capital Region.

“I love this bakery and what it stands for,” Zeiser said during an event at the Electric City Innovation Center to announce the development. “It is important to our community, and I want to see us finish what we started two years ago.”

The Pumilia Pizza Shells bakery facility in Utica. (Photos provided)

The famed family-run bakery opened in 1923 in Schenectady, run by the eight Mastroianni brothers. The baking facility later moved to Rotterdam. Its products were offered in restaurants and sold in supermarkets like Price Chopper and Hannaford.

The quality of its bread was widely praised, but declining sales and later quality problems following the death of president Armond Mastroianni in 2008 led to the business’s failure. Zeiser was hired as CEO in 2015 to turn the company around but said he ran out of time to execute a new business plan before debt levels forced it to close.

Zeiser began working with Pumilia’s Pizza Shells, a family-owned bakery in Utica, soon after the closing. At a competitive auction in November in U.S. District Bankruptcy Court in Albany, the Mastroianni name and intellectual property — including recipes — were bought by Pumilia’s, which also does business as New York Dough Co. It paid $220,000, outbidding Koffee Kup Bakery of Burlington, Vermont.

The bread is being baked at a new Pumilia bakery in Utica, but Zeiser said there will be 15 to 20 new local jobs: in sales, distribution and management. Giovanni Pumilia is the new CEO of Mastroianni .

“The Pumilia and Mastroianni familes have a lot in common,” Zeiser said. “Both are Italian immigrant families who came to the United States searching for prosperity. Both worked tirelessly to realize the American dream and provide a better life for their children. They are also both passionate about baking and chose the bread business as a way to realize that dream.”

Initially, bread and soft rolls will be the only products offered. Zeiser said he hopes the new Mastroianni line can expand into other store chains in the near future.

“Price Chopper/Market 32 is so pleased, as we’re sure many of our customers will be, to welcome the Mastroianni brand of bread and rolls back to our shelves,” said Price Chopper spokeswoman Mona Golub. “The Mastroianni family, with whom we had the pleasure to partner for many years as both our family businesses grew, set high quality standards for their products. We wish the new owners of this storied local brand much success.”

Though the company has been out of business nearly a year, its products continue to have a following. A tease about the return posted Wednesday night on Mastroianni Bros. Facebook page had more than 300 likes on Thursday and had been shared more than 160 times. The Facebook page still has 4,000 followers.

“This makes me super happy!! Even my teenagers notice the difference when I make my hero sammiches,” one fan posted on Facebook.

The initial distribution area will be the Capital Region, from Glens Falls to the northern Catskills, Zeiser said.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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