ASTORIA — An Italian bakery on 30th Avenue known for its cannoli and fresh semolina bread is set to close this week after 38 years in business — due in part to customers who want to eat healthier and the owners wanting to take a break.
Roscigno, 53, who started working in his family's bakeries in his early teens, attributed the closure to the amount of physical work involved and a drop in business.
"We own the building, and we got a good offer," he said, adding that the family has considered closing shop for the past few years.
"We feel bad about leaving, but we've been thinking about it — it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision," he added. "It's just something we need to do as a family."
Roscigno's father, Frank Roscigno, Sr., opened the place in 1976, but had been in business in Astoria for years before that, running another bakery on Hoyt Avenue starting in 1959 and another on 30th Avenue that the family sold in 1981.
Customer favorites at Frank's include its cannoli, black-and-white cookies and breads, according to staffers.
But Roscigno said business at the bakery isn't what it used to be, as the neighborhood and people's tastes have changed through the years.
"People don't eat bread like they used to. They don't eat sweets. Everything is gluten-free, diet. It's just not what it used to be," he said.
"This type of bakery, they’re dying out one by one. You’ve got to do something different, something modern. This is an old-fashioned bakery."
Jenny Francula, who grew up in Astoria, said she's been coming to Frank's for years.
"I came here when I was little, with my mom and dad," she said, saying she still stops by regularly to get cakes for special occasions or buy fruit tarts, her favorite. "I love those. They're so good."
After Saturday, Roscigno said he plans to take some time off to relax and think about what he wants to do next. For him, closing the bakery is a bittersweet experience.
"Everybody's sad," he said. "You look forward to the day that you can have a little freedom, but still, you feel sad about it."