WATERTOWN — While many grocers have bare shelves during the coronavirus outbreak, bread is selling like hot cakes at a new local Italian market with a familiar name.

There’s been long lines of walk-in customers waiting for freshly baked bread at Alteri’s Italian American Market, 948 Bradley St., since it opened last week.

Alteri’s bakery finds rising niche during outbreak

Calo Alteri waits to take a customer’s order at Alteri’s Italian-American Market in Watertown on Friday. Emil Lippe/Watertown Daily Times

“It’s been crazy busy,” said Michael Schepis, who owns the bakery, deli and butcher shop with co-owners Mark S. Alteri and Stephen G. Winkler.

Customers have had to wait 10 to 15 minutes for bread coming out of the oven to cool, he said. They’re selling an average of 250 loaves a day since the bakery’s soft opening. A customer in Gouverneur purchased another 250 loaves.

Shoppers, on the other hand, at local grocery stores have found bread often sold out since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Alteri’s bakery finds rising niche during outbreak

Mark Alteri rolls dough before placing it into the oven on Friday. Emil Lippe/Watertown Daily Times

Alteri’s is opening at a time when restaurants had to stop offering dine[in service for customers and revert to takeouts and deliveries. But Mr. Schepis said the business is overcoming the coronavirus outbreak and found a need.

Mr. Alteri was the general manager of his family’s bakery that was known locally for decades for its popular Italian bread. The new business, which opened in the former Renzi’s Old Fashioned Meat Market building, offers high-end pork chops, steaks, seafood, specialty bacon and imported goods like olive oil and other items.

Alteri’s bakery finds rising niche during outbreak

Nello Alteri places oven trays of fresh dough into the oven to bake at Alteri’s Italian-American Market in Watertown on Friday. Emil Lippe/Watertown Daily Times

The business just added pizzas and salads for deliveries and will soon offer sandwiches, soup and salads at lunchtime. The deli, butcher shop and bakery employs about eight part- and full-time workers.

It’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Alteri’s bakery finds rising niche during outbreak

Calo Alteri bags up a customer’s order at Alteri’s Italian-American Market in Watertown on Friday. Emil Lippe/Watertown Daily Times

Mr. Schepis operates SLR Home Improvements, while Mr. Winkler is owner of Lucki 7 Livestock Co.

The bakery, which was in the city’s industrial park on South Bellew Avenue, closed in 2018 under a different owner.

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(2) comments

elderberry

I'm glad this bakery has opened. It doesn't look like they are ready for industrial scale production yet, so we won't be seeing it in supermarkets, at least for a while.

As far as no bread in the supermarkets, I heard there's a shortage/absence of flour and yeast, so people can't go that route, either.

Holmes -- the real one

People hoarding food supplies have drastically changed the dynamics for our local food pantries.

Bread donations in particular are almost non-existent -- with the exception of a few local bakeries who have taken up the challenge and are baking bread just to donate.

The situation leaves those who are already financially strapped without adequate resources to feed their families.

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