STOCKTON — An endless stream of residents from all over the city lined up for dollar loaves of bread Saturday to celebrate a local bakery’s major milestone.
Genova Bakery, located at 849 N. Sierra Nevada St. in Stockton, offered baguettes and French bread for $1 to celebrate 100 years in business. The bakery also offered focaccia bread loaves for $2 and salami sandwiches for $4 to mark the occasion.
Owner Tim Canevari said he and his employees did not know what kind of turnout to expect, but they were happy that many in the community wanted to share the experience of celebrating the bakery’s centennial.
“These customers are the reason we’re still here,” Canevari said. “We just have great, loyal customers who continue to come in and support us. We have regulars who come in twice a week, sometime even every day. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”
The bakery was founded in 1918 by Angelo and Giovanni Rolleri and a third partner at the location it still occupies.
It has survived the Great Depression and 18 recessions, and when Canevari took over the bakery in 2004, he added new breads such as Dutch crunch, wheat and sourdough.
For the 100th anniversary, Canaveri said the original plan was to offer specials for 100 to mark 100 years. He was unsure, however, if he was going to be on-site every day and manage the day-to-day operations.
As a result, he and his staff came up with the idea to offer the dollar loaves of bread — 100 cents to mark 100 years equals $1.
The offers were a hit, too.
Ramona Estrada, 73, has been coming to the bakery all her life and said it’s an important piece of Stockton’s history.
She recalled a time in the 1980s when she made an illegal U-turn in front of the bakery at 7 a.m. one day and was stopped by a Stockton Police Department officer.
As she opened the car door to speak to the officer, the smell of 10 fresh baked loaves of bread caught his attention, she said.
“I said it’s the bread from (the bakery). He had never been here,” she said. “Next thing I knew he got on the phone, and about five minutes later, not even that, three more cars showed up. And they all came and bought bread. And I didn’t get the ticket!”
Gene Fuss, 64, grew up two blocks north of the bakery on Sierra Nevada Street and recalled his mother bringing him as a young boy.
He joked that the front door, which squeaks when you enter, made the same sound when he was a boy.
“I worked in Silicon Valley for a while, but I came back here to take care of my folks so they could live out their days at home,” he said. “Once I came back here I was making the weekly trips for focaccia bread. Rarely did it last more than a day.”
A member of the Stockton Host Lions Club, he said Canevari recently donated a dozen loaves of bread to the civic organization’s Camp Pacifica for 80 deaf children.
“(The bakery) is part of community,” he said. “Tim is wonderful… that’s the way Tim is. He cares about everybody. You can’t find better people. And Stockton is all about community.”
Genova Bakery is a Stockton Historical Landmark, and Saturday morning Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman named it her 2018 bakery of the year.
Canevari said he was honored to have been chosen for such a distinction.
“I really just want to thank everyone who came out today, and all year long,” he said. “And I want to give special thank to all my employees who worked all year. It’s like a family here, and families support each other.”
Contact reporter Wes Bowers at (209) 546-8258, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesBo26.