West Allis - A bakery building that had been a landmark and bustling place at Six Points in West Allis could be revived with the opening of Gianni's Bakery as early as Friday.
It will be the third bakery in succession that has tried to fill the shoes of Thompson's Bakery, an icon at the busy intersection until the owner retired in the early 2000s. Thompson's was followed by Tony C's for a short time, then in 2007 became Kaiser's Six Points Bakery, which closed a few months ago.
Gianni's owner, John Canfora, is optimistic that he has all the ingredients for success. He grew up in the bakery business and has a whole family of bakers to back him up.
"We're a bunch of bakers," Canfora said. "It's in our blood. It's a lifestyle."
Slice of the city life
He is happy to be opening his first business, and city officials also have reason to celebrate.
"This is good news," said Alderman Michael Czaplewski, whose 1st District includes the bakery. "It creates a neighborhood feeling to have a bakery."
From a city planning perspective, it's a sign that the area is vibrant and can attract new shops, said Patrick Schloss, community development manager.
"The bakery was closed only a short time and we see new ownership coming in," Schloss said.
The city has worked hard to infuse new life into the Six Points area, an important corridor with favorable traffic patterns for businesses, plus lots of families living nearby, he said.
Alderman Vincent Vitale, who also represents District 1, said he hopes people will make it a point to support the new bakery as well as other local businesses and thereby limit vacant storefronts.
What's in store
Canfora anticipates a steady flow of customers who will be especially happy that they can again get the two pastries for which the bakery there has become known: cheese flips and a poppy seed-filled coffeecake called pitizza.
Gianni's will have more diverse offerings than he has seen at bakeries around the country, he said. Canfora will have ethnic favorites such as the Polish and Jewish bobka coffeecake, light and puffy cruscziki, Italian pastries such as the popular cannolis, and Hispanic favorites including tortica shortbread buttery sweet cookies. These traditional ethnic treats are near and dear to the community, he said.
"It's like they're talking about family," he said.
He'll have many cookies from which to choose, plus lots of breads, rolls, pies and cakes. He even will soon do wedding cakes.
Gianni's will also be a full-service deli with meats, cheeses, potato salads and more. People can wait while their sandwich is made or grab a pre-made one and head out the door with a drink and chips. Specials include hot ham and rolls on weekends.
The shop also will offer cookie, fruit and sandwich platters and will cater events, Canfora said.
Baked-in taste for business
Canfora said he knew at the age of 16 that he wanted a bakery career.
His mother is proud of her son's new venture.
"He's talented, he loves it, he grew up in a bakery," Francesca Canfora said.
His uncle owns Canfora Bakery in Bay View and his whole family has taken a hand in helping out at one time or another.
The family also worked at Sciortino's Bakery and Scardina Bakery and Delicatessen and folks from there worked for his uncle, John said.
"We all grew up with each other. They've worked for us or I've worked for them," he said.
In a role reversal, his mom will work for him to help the business get going.
But maybe not such a reversal after all, if you ask her: "He's going to be the boss, but I'm always the mother," Francesca said with a laugh.
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