If there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the site of Di Camillo's new bakery in Williamsville, N.Y., it was held 180 years ago. Despite a host of new buildings available in the area, almost all of which more amenable to baking than the location he selected, Mike Di Camillo fell in love with the historical building. Though it had charm aplenty, the building required serious work to get it up to food-grade-facility standards for the fifth Di Camillo Bakery, which opened recently. The bakery's other locations are in Niagra Falls, N.Y.
The original interior of the building had been modified many times, and it wasn't protected by any historical status. Still, Di Camillo felt obligated to respect the design of the building.
"In an old building like that, you have to fashion a custom plan to the building, you can't just implement a cookie-cutter design," Di Camillo said. "Sometimes, that forces you to get creative and do some groundbreaking stuff."
Di Camillo quickly discovered a continuous production line would be impossible, so to best utilize the space, he broke his line up into stations. "This line interrupts, so it's difficult to manpower, but it's an innovative configuration. Its been an interesting experience, he added. "Curiously, I've noticed that we have no dead spots in our layout."
Location also was a big factor in the decision to expand. "We like to be banked by a dense population of people," Di Camillo said. "We prefer conventional shopping communities and free standing stores to strip malls."
The Willaimsville store lies in Erie County, and is the first of Di Camillo's bakeries to venture beyond the borders of Niagara County. "Williamsville was a growing market, and it looked like the people there were our type of customer," he says.
"Customers were aware of our products before our move because we were always a part of the Niagara Falls community," Di Camillo added. "We've had a very positive reception and response."