ABOUT

Diveder - About

The Eight-Day Work Week

Hard work has always been part of the Bernunzio family. Leo’s president Pat Bernunzio jokes that growing up in the Bernunzio family required an eight-day work week.

Working for his father at Ran Cora Bakery in Webster — every weekday, and three shifts on the weekend — was so inherent that when Pat’s future wife first asked what his typical days off were, he didn’t know how to respond. Upon asking his father, the question was quickly shrugged off with an “I don’t know” and a return to work. It was eventually conceded that Sunday would suffice, and Pat continued on, learning the baking process until his father exited the company in the mid ‘70s.

At that point Pat branched out to become a Bakery Helper at Tops Friendly Markets and within one year was promoted to Bakery Manager — the youngest supervisor the store had ever seen. And only a few years later, as a result of the unique products that his location was creating, he was promoted to manage every Tops bakery in Rochester.

Bernunzios Bakery - About

The Eight-Day Work Week

Hard work has always been part of the Bernunzio family. Leo’s president Pat Bernunzio jokes that growing up in the Bernunzio family required an eight-day work week.

Working for his father at Ran Cora Bakery in Webster — every weekday, and three shifts on the weekend — was so inherent that when Pat’s future wife first asked what his typical days off were, he didn’t know how to respond. Upon asking his father, the question was quickly shrugged off with an “I don’t know” and a return to work. It was eventually conceded that Sunday would suffice, and Pat continued on, learning the baking process until his father exited the company in the mid ‘70s.

At that point Pat branched out to become a Bakery Helper at Tops Friendly Markets and within one year was promoted to Bakery Manager — the youngest supervisor the store had ever seen. And only a few years later, as a result of the unique products that his location was creating, he was promoted to manage every Tops bakery in Rochester.

Bernunzio’s Bakeries

Determined to apply his management experience to pursue his own vision, in 1980 he decided to open his own bakery with his wife Kathy Bernunzio. The chosen location was a struggling bakery whose owner, a neighboring Butcher Shop, was looking to offload. The business deal to rent was surprisingly a better long-term offer than the option to purchase, as the Butcher shop wanted someone to take over the bakery, draw business to the area, and maintain the building. After convincing the owner to provide a three-day grace period for the first month’s rent, Bernunzio’s Bakery was opened in East Rochester without money for rent and without money for the cash register. Three days passed, the bakery drew in enough business to pay for the first month’s rent, and never missed a payment for the space. The agreement worked, Bernunzio’s grew, and soon expanded into the empty location next door.

Shortly after, Browncroft Pastry Shop (Pat’s father’s company) was transformed into a second Bernunzio’s location. And within a few years, a larger Bernunzio’s location in Webster would replace the East Rochester location.

In the late ‘80s, the Bernunzio’s locations were sold to gain experience brokering businesses, and Pat went to work for VR Business Brokers. Brokering would eventually lead to the purchase of Gail’s Cookies — a business that the Bernunzio’s would improve upon, rebrand into Rochester Cookie Company (to focus on popular varieties of jumbo cookies), and later sell to allow for their next adventure.

Hawaiian Interlude - About

Hawaiian Interlude

After several months of prodding from a former Bernunzio’s employee (who took one suitcase to “check out” Hawaii, deciding on-the-spot to make it a one-way trip), Pat and Kathy were convinced to move to the island of Maui. At that point, both Pat and Kathy had grown up and lived within one tiny square mile of Webster for 40 years. It was 1993 and it was time to see and do; time to explore a new place.

Starting new in Hawaii was more difficult than expected however, and they immediately noticed resistance as they were considered “non-islanders” competing with local entrenched businesses. After much persistence and persuasion, the space was finally rented, and after 6 months of effort, their business was finally licensed. A new product line was created with the addition of local Hawaiian ingredients, which transformed many of Bernunzio’s original products – Pineapple Coconut Muffins, Macadamia Nut Chocolate Cookies, and many others.

Leos elite Hawaiian Interlude - About

Hawaiian Interlude

After several months of prodding from a former Bernunzio’s employee (who took one suitcase to “check out” Hawaii, deciding on-the-spot to make it a one-way trip), Pat and Kathy were convinced to move to the island of Maui. At that point, both Pat and Kathy had grown up and lived within one tiny square mile of Webster for 40 years. It was 1993 and it was time to see and do; time to explore a new place.

Starting new in Hawaii was more difficult than expected however, and they immediately noticed resistance as they were considered “non-islanders” competing with local entrenched businesses. After much persistence and persuasion, the space was finally rented, and after 6 months of effort, their business was finally licensed. A new product line was created with the addition of local Hawaiian ingredients, which transformed many of Bernunzio’s original products – Pineapple Coconut Muffins, Macadamia Nut Chocolate Cookies, and many others.

Leo’s Bakery & Deli / Watermark Specialty Foods

By 1996 their children had moved on to college and Pat and Kathy were looking to return home to their Rochester family. They returned home, after years of sunshine and blue water, just in time to experience snow showers in May of ‘96. By November they had purchased Leo’s Bakery on Atlantic Avenue in Rochester and were back at it again. This time they knew the transformation would require a major overhaul. Remodeling commenced, upgrades were made, and some “regulars” were angered by the changes occurring — but they were convinced that they were poised to grow their new business and transition it into a company that many more people would come to love.

Again, in the beginning, it was not an easy process. Pat worked every day for an entire year to clean up and remodel the location, eventually freeing up space for Watermark Specialty Foods — which was purchased in 2000 to focus on wholesale distribution of a wide variety of food products. Leo’s Bakery and Watermark Specialty Foods continued on in the Atlantic Ave. building for several more years until cookie-focused Elite Bakery was purchased in 2004 which resulted in the formation of Leo’s Elite Bakery.

Newspaper Cover - About

PRESENT

2004 also resulted in an expansion to the current location at 101 Despatch Drive in East Rochester. Remodeling would again take place. A deli and café would be added, production space would be built, and the site would eventually house retail-focused Leo’s Bakery & Deli and wholesale-focused Watermark Specialty Foods.

Since then, the location has continued to expand which Pat attributes to his key people. He continues to remind them that his success is due to perseverance, “hiring good people”, and his secret weapon – his wife who provides realistic expectations for his creative ventures.

Building with Grass - About

2004 also resulted in an expansion to the current location at 101 Despatch Drive in East Rochester. Remodeling would again take place. A deli and café would be added, production space would be built, and the site would eventually house retail-focused Leo’s Bakery & Deli and wholesale-focused Watermark Specialty Foods.

Since then, the location has continued to expand which Pat attributes to his key people. He continues to remind them that his success is due to perseverance, “hiring good people”, and his secret weapon – his wife who provides realistic expectations for his creative ventures.

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Contact Us

101 Despatch Drive
East Rochester, NY 14445

Phone:

585-249-1000

Hours

Monday - Saturday:

8am - 8pm

Sunday:

8am - 6pm

logo - About
Watermark Logo Ship Blue - About

Contact Us

101 Despatch Drive
East Rochester, NY 14445

Phone:

585-249-1000

Hours

Monday - Saturday:

8am - 8pm

Sunday:

8am - 6pm

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