Edmonton’s Italian Bakery celebrated its grand reopening Saturday, more than three years after a fire destroyed the Chinatown landmark.
Customers packed the store to celebrate the bakery’s return with a lion dance, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and free samples of pastries and meals.
“I just want to say ‘Edmonton this is for you. This is for you,’” owner Renato Frattin told Global News.
The family-run store business is now operating out of a new and improved space with more to offer.
“We never had pizza before. We never had fresh pasta and now we have opportunities to do that,’ Frattin said. “We never had produce, now we have that, too. So we kind of got the full package here.”
The Italian Bakery temporarily ceased operations in April 2020 after a fire ripped through much of its old building. Edmonton police confirmed arson was to blame.
This was the family’s second encounter with a fire-related incident. Back in February 2016, a blaze tore through their 118 Avenue location.
Between construction delays and family circumstances, including the deaths of Renato’s parents and brother-in-law, the Chinatown location stayed closed longer than originally anticipated.
The bakery soft-launched about a month ago. Frattin is not only thrilled to make a comeback, but excited to see patrons waiting for the bakery’s return.
“I am so happy to see all the people here. The turnout is unbelievable,” he said.
“There were at least 100 people outside before the store even opened today. We’re so happy.”
Frattin’s parents, Antonio and Aurora Frattin, first opened the Italian Bakery in 1960. Frattin is grateful to see the business pass down through the generations.
“If you work hard, and you have good quality and consistency… time passes, and the next thing you know you’re like ‘Oh, I’m here,’” he said.
Anne Stevenson, city councillor for the O-day’min ward, was in attendance Saturday morning, saluted the bakery for its courage.
“This is a great example of how, as a community, we can go through exceptionally hard and challenging times and come through even stronger than before,” she said.
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Several other community partners were in attendance, including Chinatown Business Improvement Area co-chair Christina Trang and Edmonton police chief Dale McFee.
Trang said the return of the bakery will make the area more lively.
“This is such a historical day in Chinatown today,” she said. “It’s something we believe in. It’s something that we think is worth building again in the community, which really helps revitalization in Chinatown.”
McFee said he believes the Italian Bakery can be an inspiration for other businesses that face hardships.
“Obviously, something as tragic as a fire that takes your livelihood away and the willingness and determination to rebuild talks really about the businesses in this community,” he said.
McFee also said with the province’s support in hiring more officers, the force is able to expand their presence and monitor suspicious activity.
He said he was in contact with the province earlier this week as talks continue on how to improve safety in Chinatown.
Frattin said he isn’t too concerned with crime at his property thanks to added security.
He’s grateful to see support from residents from across the city.
“For everyone who worked hard ahead of us — my parents, Frank, now us — I’m happy to see that now we’re growing and we’ve been able to maintain what we’ve been doing.”
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