KERNSTOWN COMMONS — Chris Sclafani is bringing the taste of Little Italy to the Winchester area in his recently opened Sclafani’s New York Bagels and Bread bakery.
The bakery is serving up New York-style bagels, bread, sandwiches and coffee, and is holding its grand opening celebration today.
Sclafani, 41, a native of Little Italy in the Bronx, New York, moved with his family to the valley to return to the bakery life he grew up with.
He said they chose Winchester after weeks of visiting towns up and down the valley from Winchester to the Blacksburg area.
“We looked for towns with certain demographics,” Sclafani explained. “For a bakery to be successful, you have to have about 25,000 people in a town.”
Although he said that other valley towns fit this profile, Sclafani noted that he and his family kept coming back to Winchester.
He explained that his family fell in love with the people as well as what he described as a “level of politeness that is lost to America, in general.”
Sclafani pointed out that everything about the restaurant is tailored to look like a bakery one might find in Little Italy.
For example, he noted that they retrofitted an old 1912 cash register they found at the Strasburg Emporium.
He said he purposefully excluded televisions to encourage conversation between customers.
“Maybe they’ll come down and read a newspaper, maybe they’ll talk to their spouse or their boyfriend … or whomever it might be, and enjoy a simpler time,” Sclafani said.
A few weeks prior to today’s grand opening, Sclafani opened the bakery up and served everything except sandwiches.
Since it has been open, he noted that it has been a challenge to keep up with the consistent and surprising long morning lines they have seen.
“Over the three months that it took to build this out, we met dozens and dozens of people,” Sclafani said, noting that he created an email list from these encounters.
“We have over 300 people on the email list,” Sclafani said. “I haven’t even emailed these people yet, but … we can’t even keep the bread in the shelves.”
Sclafani said that he handles 100 percent of the baking as well as the management of the operation. His three children – two sons and one daughter – also work at the bakery.
From now until July 18, Sclafani said that he and his family will be looking to ramp up production in order to meet demand. He noted they are producing about 1,000 bagels per day to meet that demand.
At the moment, Sclafani said opening the bakery in Winchester has been “an extraordinary blessing.”
“We’ve already made Winchester our home,” Sclafani said. “We love it here.”
Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org