DiRienzo Brothers Bakery
The year was 1904, the Italian immigrant was Gaetano DiRienzo and the business was a bakery located on Henry Street in Binghamton. The bakery moved to this location in 1936 and, a century later, DiRienzo Brothers Bakery is still going strong.
In the 20’s two cousins, Felice and Felice DiRienzo (yes, both were named Felice) took over the business. One of the Felice cousins had four sons, Luigi, Felice, Carmen and Anthony to run the business. Eldest son Luigi (Lou) has passed away and Phil has retired, leaving Carmen and Anthony to run the business. They all grew up in the bakery, pitching in to help from the time that they were in grade school. The obligation to help the family was so strong that the boys forsook high school sports to fulfill their commitment to the business.
Over the years, the bakery expanded and the brick oven was replaced with more modern versions. No longer are bags of flour unloaded from a truck; it’s now pumped from a tank truck into a 50,000 pound hopper. But the recipe that Gaetano developed at the turn of the century is still the basis for today’s bread.
In the early 80’s, the brothers decided to diversify by adding a deli. Luigi had an idea….let’s buy a rotisserie and sell barbecued chicken. It was a great plan, but the vendor didn’t send a rotisserie; instead, a deep fryer was shipped. So they decided to sell fried fish. The haddock that they buy is caught and immediately flash-frozen, guaranteeing that, when purchased by customers, the fish will be as fresh as the day it swam in the Atlantic. Their fried fish is now a local legend. Every Friday throughout the year, plus Wednesdays during Lent and Christmas Eve the line is out the door. The breading, of course, is made with DiRienzo bread crumbs and their secret blend of herbs and spices.
The signature advertising for the bakery is a truck lofted high above the parking lot; another of Luigi’s marketing ideas. It has become a local landmark, and they’ve even had radio personalities broadcast from the cab of the truck.
Today, Carmen runs the bakery operation and Anthony takes orders and makes sales calls. The highlight of Anthony’s week is taking care of fish customers on Fridays. As he puts it, it’s a chance to say hello to loyal customers. He and his staff fry as much as a thousand pounds of fish on a Lenten Friday. Anthony and his wife, Rose, make a great team. Among her many talents, Rose bakes an outstanding holiday treat, Kolachki. She makes hundreds of pounds every year and it always sells out.
It’s rare that a business survives for over a century, and even more rare that its success transcends three generations. DiRienzo Brothers Bakery has broken all the rules. A fitting tribute to Gaetano DiRienzo.