Owner of St. Anthony’s Bakery reflects on its history and closing, set for Dec. 5

November 5, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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A popular family-owned Dyker Heights bakery is saying goodbye after being in the neighborhood for more than 50 years.

St. Anthony’s Bakery, 6819 Fort Hamilton Pkwy., which has been open since 1971 and is famous for its delicious Italian bread and pastries, will officially close its doors on Dec. 5.

Baked goods that locals will miss when St. Anthony’s Bakery closes. Eagle photos by Jaime DeJesus

One of the bakery’s owners, Francesco Schillaci, who took over the bakery in 1988 from his uncle who had owned it since 1971, said that it was time to retire, close up shop and spend more time with his family.

“Nothing lasts forever,” he said.  “Even if I wanted to try to continue, I don’t have the strength to keep it going.”

Before it was St. Anthony’s, the building had hosted a bakery under a different name starting way back in 1931.

In 1973, Schillaci started working there.

Throughout the decades, several family members young and old grew up working at the establishment as they bonded while they grew a loyal customer base.

A statue of St. Anthony inside the bakery. Eagle photos by Jaime DeJesus

“We were all here together, especially for Christmas Eve,” he said. “We’d all get together in the back and eat [dinner] at our big table. It was nice.”

Linda Schillaci-Fontana, whose first job was at the bakery, has fond memories of growing up in the business. Her mother, Celinda Schillaci, is also an owner.

“For everyone, it’s going to be bittersweet,” she said, showing the back of the bakery. “This is where I grew up. We played in the back.  We used to play house with boxes. We used to play soccer. We ate dinner here. This table is a part of our history.”

The establishment is also unique in that it includes a coal oven, rare for a modern-day bakery.

When Schillaci-Fontana got married, a photographer took a picture of her and her husband near the oven for a wedding photo.

Once word got out through social media that the bakery would be closing, several customers were saddened that they would no longer have a place to buy their baked goods from their favorite establishment.

“I had a few of my customers come in here and said, ‘I hear you’re going to close,’” said Francesco Schillaci. “And some of them started crying.”

His wife, Assunta Schillaci, is also an owner and shared their sadness.

“That makes us cry too,” she said. That was their bakery for so many years. Nothing lasts forever though. We needed to retire.”

The family appreciates the love customers and neighbors have shown the bakery since they heard about the closing.

The table where members of the family would eat dinner during the holidays. Eagle photos by Jaime DeJesus

“There’s no words to describe how we feel and how they supported us throughout the years,” Schillaci-Fontana said. “The neighborhood has changed like anything else but that’s life. [The support] means a lot to us.”

Even after many local residents started moving to Staten Island and New Jersey, they would still return for the holidays to buy the baked goods. 

“People have been coming to this place for over 35 years,” said Schillaci. “People that come around the neighborhood have been coming here since they were kids. It’s very nice.”

As of Nov. 5, they were still putting the finishing touches on a goodbye sign for the front window.

“It is with a heavy heart our family is announcing the closing of Saint Anthony Bakery,” the sign reads. “We love you and thank you for supporting us throughout the years. Last day is December 5. God Bless and Happy Holidays.”

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