A family-owned business in Niagara Falls is marking 100 years of operation by celebrating completion of a large-scale renovation of the building where it all began in 1920.
DiCamillo Bakery's flagship store is located on Linwood Avenue near Main Street. In addition to the storefront, a 30,000-square-foot production facility is operating behind it. Over the years, the family business expanded to include shops on Pine Avenue in the city's Little Italy neighborhood, Niagara Falls Boulevard and 80th Street in the city's LaSalle district, Central Avenue in the Village of Lewiston and most recently Main Street in the Village of Williamsville.
How has a family-owned business been able to thrive, especially in a city that has seen its heyday but also sharp economic downturn?
"Hopefully it's the product, the people, the history," said 80-year-old David DiCamillo, of the third generation of family to run the company. "It's pretty remarkable when you stop to think about it. How many businesses make it to the third generation, let alone the fourth generation?"
That fourth generation is now running the business, which recently completed a remodeling of its flagship store to include an updated front area from ceiling to floor, a new seating area for customers, new signage, a new gas-fired pizza oven and new large windows that let customers see the work going on behind the counter in the production area. The flagship store has also introduced on-site gelato production and sales.
Coming in during the noon hour to say hello Thursday was Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, who told WBFO the city assisted the family with financing to help get their project completed. DiCamillo Bakery is seen as a critical business in the city's North End/Main Street Corridor.
Niagara Falls has enjoyed, with millions of dollars in state money, a makeover of its tourist district. But what about neighborhoods such as Main Street?
"The downtown revitalization initiative is focused squarely on this section of Main Street," Restaino answered. "Our hope is that, as we get out of the pandemic and the state is ready to start announcing acceptable projects, we'll be able to roll out some projects that are going to take us from this spot northward on Main Street, and see with one of our investment partners, Blue Cardinal Capital, the type of renaissance for the city of Niagara Falls on Main Street."
DiCamillo Bakery did not host a formal large-scale centennial celebration due to the ongoing pandemic, but business was nonetheless steady Thursday. In a city that has suffered a loss of heavy industry and population, the bakery has remained one of the constants.
"We're fortunate in a lot of respects. We had the bread business which was very big business years ago for all the bakers in town. Then we spread to some of the pastries and cookies and things like that. It gave us opportunities to expand our work," DiCamillo said. "And then we made a difference. So hopefully, we'll continue with the fourth generation now. They're doing a great job."