Boogie Down Bites: Madonia Bakery

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THE BRONX -

Both death and near-death experiences haven't stopped the Madonia family business from growing and making it to 100 years.

At Madonia Bakery on Arthur Avenue, there is a century of baked goods and a century of stories that tell the tale of the family that's owned the shop for three generations.

When Peter Madonia's grandparents came to the Bronx from Sicily, they opened the small shop on Arthur Avenue in 1918.

His father, also Peter Madonia, was born inside the bakery three months premature because of a car crashing into the store. 
 
"They put him in a shoe box with cotton around it and put him next to the oven which effectively acted like an incubator," says Peter Madonia.
 
His father worked in the bakery until his 90s, and his older brother Mario took over and is credited for their first push of specialty breads it's well-known for.

Then tragedy struck.
 
"He was killed in a car accident in 1988 and that's when I came to the business,” says Madonia.
 
The loss of his brother made Peter's mission in life clear.

He left his job in Mayor Ed Koch's administration and brought in a partner, Charles Lalima, who is responsible for the second push of specialty breads.

After years of getting settled, Charlie took the reins while Peter went back to city government as Mayor Michael Bloomberg's chief of staff. 
 
"I did that for four years, and then I got an offer to become the chief operating officer for the Rockefeller Foundation, which I did for 12 years and it was there that I really came to appreciate what it means to be around 100 years,” says Madonia. 

The history, heritage, and, of course, the smell of fresh bread pulled Peter back to his family's roots one more time.

The bakery celebrated 100 years of business this year.

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