Last updated on June 29th, 2017 at 11:38 am
Zaro’s Family Bakery of New York City is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, with the business under the fourth generation of family management.
Zaro’s operates nine bakeries, including three at Grand Central Terminal, three at Penn Station, two at Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey, and one location at 37th and Broadway.
With assistance from consultant Robert Goodman, the company recently began to distribute its products to supermarket bakeries. Zaro’s products now can be found in Northeast supermarkets like Balducci’s, Big Y and Stew Leonard’s as well as Heinen’s in Cleveland, Ohio.
Joseph Zaro, having left his home and family in Eastern Europe, sailed to Ellis Island more than 90 years ago. He started a bakery in the Bronx and the business, in its heyday, grew to 20 bakeries in the neighborhood. His sons, Phil and William, took the helm of the business in the 1950s and expanded. In 1977, Zaro’s opened four Grand Central Station stores, followed by stores in Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Today, the company employs 80 people in its retail bakeries and employs, depending on the season, 200-300 in its bakery facilities/warehouses.
Michael Zaro says the company’s success is due to the family’s commitment to “baking the finest breads and pastries in the world.”
While each of its retail bakeries is different, all specialize in bagels, pastries, cookies, cakes and coffees. Some of the bakeries located in food courts offer items like sandwiches, salads, soups and hot dogs.
“We are still a fairly small family-run business, and we are flexible. But what we do best is bakery. We focus on quality and consistency of product,” says Michael. “It’s a combination of value, quality and consistency. Everything is made by hand. We use top-notch ingredients and sell a phenomenal product at a value price.”
Michael says locating bakeries in high-volume commuter spots like Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station has proved profitable for company. Like all businesses, however, Zaro’s faces its challenges, including, Michael says, “rising ingredient and labor costs and a lot more competition.
“But New Yorkers know us and know what we stand for. We are a staple of New Yorkers’ lives.”
As for future plans, Michael says Zaro’s intends to locate a retail bakery next to its main bakery plant in the Bronx. And, of course, the company is always looking for a good location if it makes sense, he adds.