Written by Domenica Farishian, email@example.com Friday, 31 January 2014 00:00
One key ingredient and quite possibly the secret to the success of Francesco’s Bakery in Hicksville may be the simple recipe of a son’s love for his father.
“My dad was my hero and I wanted to be just like him,” 48-year-old Francesco Guerrieri proudly proclaims.
It was his love for his dad that propelled him from a bright-eyed young boy into the proprietor of five Long Island bakeries. Becoming “just like his dad” started early for Guerrieri, who began working side by side with his father, Antonio, at Erga Bakery in Bethpage when he was just nine-years-old. “I used to fill the cookies, make cakes, clean up, I did it all.”
His father owned several of his own bakeries in Naples, Italy before moving his wife and five children to America, where he quickly landed a job as “master baker” at the Bethpage bakery. There, he taught young Francesco everything he knew from “the old country”. He happily and eagerly learned. “I have always had a passion for baking,” states Guerrieri.
It wasn’t just Guerrieri’s father who was willing to teach him but a host of “old school” bakers who weren’t usually so inclined to divulge the tricks of the trade.
“I grew up with the old timers who never wanted to share their recipes, but I was so young they would show me everything because they didn’t feel threatened by me.” Guerrieri paid close attention to all that he was taught, putting in long hours at the bakery and by the time he was 21, decided he was ready to go out on his own.
“I thought let me take a shot.” He boldly approached a Hicksville bakery owner asking if he wanted to sell his business. It wasn’t for sale at the time but Guerrieri convinced him to sell and with a partial loan from his parents opened up his first bakery shop: Francesco’s.
Guerrieri did all of the baking by himself, taking everything he learned using the traditional Italian recipes but expanding it with the freshest ingredients. “The bakers I worked with were from the post depression era and would try to save money, but I decided why not give people the best.”
After five years of being the solo baker, business really started to take off and he decided it was time to hire another baker. There were no interviews or advertising required, he knew exactly whom he wanted for the job. “Of course I hired my dad,” Guerrieri happily recalls.
So with the father and son baking team back together again, business began to boom.
As the business grew, Guerrieri needed to hire more bakers and developed a system to run the back as efficiently as he could. “I set it up like an assembly line: cake decorating, fondant, sugar. It really helped everything run smoothly.”
Business grew so much that in 2007 he was able to open up a second bakery in Massapequa. By the end of 2011 he acquired another three bakeries in Farmingdale, Plainview and Bethpage. The fifth bakery he bought was the place where it all began for him and his father. “I bought Erga bakery where we first worked together,” said Guerrieri.
Like a well-oiled machine Guerrieri operates all five of his bakeries from his main “hub” in Hicksville where all of the baked goods such as cookies, pastries and cakes are baked and supplied to the other five locations. Wedding cakes are his biggest source of income; Francesco’s supplies between 70 to 100 wedding cakes weekly. Another popular bakery item, breads are all made at the Bethpage location and supplied to all five bakeries.
Guerrieri’s father stayed working with him until his retirement. Even after his retirement he still came in every day making coffee and his signature “Sfogliatella’s” pastries until passing away three years ago. “This was my dad’s hangout,” Guerrieri fondly remembers.
Something Guerrieri says would make his dad very proud would be seeing the next generation of Guerrieri’s working by his side. His two oldest children, a teenage son and daughter, have both helped out at the bakery. For now, it is too soon to tell about his youngest children who are only two and three, but given Guerrieri’s early start; you never know.
Francesco’s Bakery is located at 640 South Broadway in Hicksville. To find out more visit www.francescosbakery.com or call 516-931-6821.