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Serpe & Sons Bakery Reopening after 2015 Fire

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A fire on Dec. 24, 2015, severely damaged Serpe & Sons Bakery, and fans of the Elsmere landmark have been pining for tomato pie, Italian rolls, pastries and cookies for 10 long months. But customers can finally satisfy their cravings again: Serpe’s is reopening on Friday, Oct. 28.

The bakery still offers all the sweet and savory goods that made it a local legend. There are also new items, such as Di Bruno Bros. meats and cheeses, and Talluto’s frozen pasta. Some will be available for sampling during Friday’s grand reopening event.

“We’re going to be a small Italian market,” says Nicholas Serpe, whose grandparents, Domenico and Lucille Serpe, founded the bakery in 1952 in Wilmington and moved it to Elsmere in 1964.

A new grab-and-go case will house many of the bakery’s additions, including gluten-free goodies from Birch Tree Cafe. “People have been asking for gluten-free items for quite some time—more so in recent years,” Serpe says. “We’re very proud to offer [them] now.”

The bakery’s new footprint is similar to its original space, though there is now more room for customers waiting in line. There’s also a consultation room where customers can peruse wedding cakes on a digital screen and see samples. Technological updates include video screens and a computerized point-of-sale system for checkout.

PHOTOS Courtesy of Nicholas Serpe

The grand reopening celebration starts at 7 a.m. with a blessing by a priest from St. Anthony of Padua. Many people don’t know about the link between bread and the Roman Catholic saint, Serpe says. As the story goes, a mother promised St. Anthony that she would give wheat and bread to the poor if he revived her drowned child. The child lived, and she kept her promise. Today, St. Anthony’s Bread refers to the thanksgiving or alms that a supplicant offers when the saint answers his or her prayer.

Friday’s festivities will also feature a flag-raising ceremony by the Elsmere Fire Company, and a live broadcast by WDEL’s Rick Jensen.

The reopening is happening later than anticipated, and just in time for the busy holiday season. “We wanted to make sure we did it right,” Serpe says.

The Serpe family also had to wait for an insurance company to complete an investigation. In October, The News Journal reported that Serpe & Sons was suing a Canadian manufacturer for failing to correctly install a safe oven.

Over the past 10 months, Serpe’s had continued supplying some wholesalers with bread from New Jersey bakeries. “Some of them stuck with us,” Serpe says. “We can’t thank them enough. We would not have gotten through the reconstruction without their cooperation.”

The same is true of the bakery’s retail customers. “All the support we’ve been getting on Facebook has definitely been gratifying,” Serpe says. “It kept us going.”

Serpe & Sons Bakery is located at 1411 Kirkwood Highway in Elsmere, Del., 19805. Call 994-1868 or visit www.serpesbakery.com.

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