PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Federal Hill landmark is closing after more than 100 years in business.
Scialo Bros. Bakery will not be filling any more orders for cookies, cakes and Italian pastries. Instead, the business and building that houses it are up for sale, according to Rick Simone, executive director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association.
Luigi Scialo opened the business at 257 Atwells Ave. in 1916 and ran it until his death in 1993. His two daughters — Lois (Scialo) Ellis and Carol (Scialo) Gaeta — carried on the tradition until the pandemic closed the bakery back in March.
Before the bakery could reopen again, Lois passed away in August. She was 76 years-old.
“We were notified recently that they weren’t going to be able to reopen the bakery with the loss of Lois, and that they were looking for buyers of the building,” Simone said. “I think that it just came down to, that it was time for the family after 104 years to try and find another way to honor the traditions of this building that’s on Federal Hill.”
Simone said the family initially hoped to find a buyer who could continue running it as a bakery, but he says that would come with a lot of challenges.
“Not only finding a baker and someone that will stay on the property to be here, but also finding the right person to commit that has the ability to do that in the current business climate that we’re in,” Simone said.
Simone says there are several interested buyers, but it appears the Omni Group will likely be the one to close on the property, currently listed at just under $2 million.
“We have faith that they’re going to come in and do the right thing, and we hope that maybe they’ll have the possibility of having another baker to come in,” Simone said.
According to the Providence Preservation Society, Scialo Bros. Bakery has landmark status.
Rachel Robinson, Director of Preservation, says the building is individually landmarked in the Providence Landmarks District, so any future plans would need to go through Providence’s Historic District Commission and City Plan Commission, respectively.
Robinson says in addition to the bakery being used and occupied for the same purpose since 1916, she believes the building’s Art Deco facade makes it historically special.
Thousands of people from across the country have counted on Scialo Bros. Bakery over the years, and Simone says overall reaction to the closing has been sad.
“There are people who were used to coming here for every major holiday that existed, whether you were coming here in March to get your zeppole, your sfogliatella, or your Italian pastries,” he said. “We’re going to miss the family. They were part of the fabric of Federal Hill, like I said for 104 years, and there’s a lot of us that built our traditions around them.”