PLEASANTVILLE — Most southern New Jersey residents have probably eaten the products of Valenti’s Italian Bakery. But chances are they don’t know their sub roll, focaccia or bagel was prepared by this brother-and-sister-owned business that tends to keep a low profile.
Donna and Frank McGlynn bake nearly 20 different types of bread in their facility in the Pleasantville Industrial Park, Donna McGlynn said. From there, it is delivered fresh to restaurants, delis and markets from Cape May to Long Beach Island to Vineland.
“Every single piece of bread in our place, even if there’s a piece of equipment (involved), is touched by hand,” McGlynn said.
McGlynn said she and her brother grew up in the Italian section of Atlantic City, eating the baked goods for which the area is known. When it came time to enter the work force, Frank McGlynn went to work for an (now competing) Atlantic City bakery, and she went into marketing at Resorts casino.
At his bakery job, Frank McGlynn and a partner invented a process to “parbake,” or partially bake, bread so restaurants and supermarkets can store it and finish baking the loaves later, Donna McGlynn said. They used another bakery’s facilities to prepare and sell the bread. Atlantic City Bread Distributors was incorporated in 1994.
McGlynn said she began by helping her brother market his invention, but was soon involved in the business full-time. She completed a pastry program at Atlantic Cape Community College and later studied with a master baker in Norwich, Vt.
Soon, customers began asking for fresh bread, and they couldn’t deliver from a competitor’s bakery, Donna McGlynn said.
They found a store in Harbor Village Square in Egg Harbor Township, and ran the bakery there for 13 years.
Atlantic City Bread Distributors wasn’t a good name for a bakery, , and “McGlynn’s Italian Bakery” didn’t quite cut it either, McGlynn said. So they called the bakery Valenti’s, their mother’s maiden name.
The new shop included a 300-square-foot retail space, and was soon running as a full-service bakery, McGlynn said.
For Christmas, they would bake cookies using their Sicilian grandmother’s recipes, and people would line up outside the shop for the chance to buy them, McGlynn said.
“Our business was booming so much, we couldn’t fit on top of each other,” McGlynn said. In May 2009, the bakery moved to the Pleasantville facility, which has triple the space.
Frank McGlynn oversees the baking and delivery operations, while she does marketing, Donna McGlynn said. They serve about 150 restaurants and small markets as well as a few casinos.
Traditional bread makes up less than 20 percent of Valenti’s business, McGlynn said. The rest is bagels, dinner rolls and specialty loaves such as walnut-raisin, multigrain and rosemary-herb focaccia.
In the summer, the bakery works nearly 24 hours a day to provide all the breadstuff restaurants need in the tourist season, McGlynn said. Winter baking is done at night. Delivery trucks roll out seven days a week.
She and her brother have the timing down to a science, McGlynn said. The bagels and breakfast rolls go into the ovens at about midnight to 1 a.m., so the trucks can get to stores and restaurants in the early morning. The dinner rolls are last.
“Sometimes we’re not even baking dinner bread until 11 o’clock in the morning,” which means it’s still fresh when it is put on diners’ tables, McGlynn said.
Anything left unsold at the end of the baking shift is donated to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, McGlynn said.
Valenti’s tries to keep prices low because restaurants are struggling in today’s economy, McGlynn said. Part of her job is to monitor the commodities market for the price of wheat and to buy flour in multi-ton batches to keep costs down. They haven’t had to raise prices in three years.
The only disadvantage in moving to Pleasantville was that Valenti’s could no longer sell bread to the general public, McGlynn said. There is room for retail space in the facility, but its out-of-the-way location makes it impractical to run a shop.
But a small retail location opened in January, ironically in the same shop in Harbor Village Square that housed the bakery for 13 years, McGlynn said. A case in the Convenience News and Tobacco shop offers Valenti’s bread, bagels and muffins.
Valenti’s Italian Bakery
Location: Pleasantville Industrial Park
Owners: Frank and Donna McGlynn
Employees: About 12 to 25, seasonally
Contact Elaine Rose: