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Bakeries rolling in the dough so far this holiday season

Bronx Times
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With Thanksgiving already a memory, the holiday season is in full swing as millions deck the halls and hit the stores.

While online sales continue to cut into retail business, Bronx bakeries said their business is booming.

At Conti’s Pastry Shoppe on Morris Park, owner Sal Paljevic said sales were robust Thanksgiving Eve as over 650 loyal customers picked up pies and other goodies, while another 600 sales were made Thanksgiving morning.

“I’m already up double digits from last year,” Paljevic said. “As of Saturday, I’ve already surpassed my gross revenues from last year, which is pretty exciting.”

As might be expected, pies were the biggest seller for Thanksgiving, but cookies are the major ticket item leading up to Christmas and the New Year

Paljevic took over the popular 95-year-old bakery 13 years ago, and said growth has been steady every year since.

He continues to sell the traditional Italian pastries, cookies and cakes that made the bakery famous, but has added items that appeal to the newer, more diverse community that calls the neighborhood home, such as sweet potato pies and red velvet cakes.

“There are a lot of [Middle Easterners] in the neighborhood, so we cater to them by not using gelatin or alcohol [in our product],” Paljevic said.

At the Pelham Bake Shop, formerly Pelham Delight, new ownership and other changes haven’t deterred customers at all, said general manager Felix Luna.

Pies were a big seller for Thanksgiving, he said.

“It was much better than last year,” he said. “We were very busy.”

Luna said the new ownership, which also owns the Quality Grill and Gyro Greek restaurant on Edison Avenue, has added Greek specialties such as Baklava, Galaktoboureko and spinach pie to the menu.

“It doesn’t just sell to Greeks,” he said. “Everybody likes it.”

Luna anticipated cookies and pastries will sell well through the holidays, but added the homemade gingerbread houses created on-site by a staff baker were also a big seller.

“We’ll start taking orders for them and we’ll start putting them out here on display for people to buy them,” Luna said.

Specialty bakeries also seem to be thriving this holiday season.

At Lloyd’s Carrot Cake on Broadway across from Van Cortlandt Park, lines were out the door before Thanksgiving to get the most famous carrot cake in the city, if not the world.

“We had a very long line from the time we opened until we closed, so that was really good,” said owner Betty Campbell-Adams. “It’s always that way but this year the lines seemed even longer.” I’d say we we’re up around 15 percent.”

Campbell-Adams has been running the store with her children and her six employees since her husband, founder Lloyd Adams, passed away in 2007.

The bakery has been located in Riverdale since 1986, but a retail storefront was added earlier this year, complete with a juice bar. Campbell-Adams also owns a second location in Harlem.

While carrot cake is always the biggest seller, Lloyd’s also offers other cakes including red velvet and pineapple coconut, as well as cupcakes and pecan pies.

Cakes are baked daily for walk-in customers, but advance orders are recommended during the holidays due to extremely high demand.

“We do all-night baking,” Campbell-Adams said. “We had [bakers] here for two nights in a row - I was here three nights in a row, 72 hours without sleep, just to satisfy the demand we anticipated.”

Like the other bakers, Campbell-Adams is adapting to new tastes and needs from the community.

“I’m considering adding a vegan cake,” she said. “We’ve been asked many times, and I did one for a family going back to India and they loved it, so I think I’ll experiment a little more for the holidays.”

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com.Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.
Updated 5:07 pm, July 9, 2018
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