LaCascia's celebrates 30 years in Burlington

By Bruce Coulter – GateHouse News Service

Burlington –

It's been 30 years since LaCascia's Bakery II opened its doors in Burlington, but the family's business roots go much deeper – even before the start of the Depression in 1929.

According to David LaCascia, his grandfather, Peter LaCascia, opened the first LaCascia's Bakery in 1926 in East Boston.

"It started off pretty much as just a bread bakery," said David.

Approximately 80 years ago, the family opened a store in Medford and expanded its offerings to include a delicatessen and catering services.

Although that store still carries the LaCascia name, it's no longer owned by the family.

"We sold it about 15 years ago," he said.

Eventually, the torch was passed to Anthony LaCascia Sr., David's father, after Peter's death approximately 35 years ago, he said.

Five years later, Anthony Sr. saw what David called a "great opportunity," and opened the store in Burlington.

Initially a deli and bakery operation after opening in 1980, LaCascia's catering services took off slowly, said David.

"Throughout the years the catering business really took off. Now we're doing a ton of catering," he said.

David estimates the business is evenly divided between catering, delicatessen and bakery operations.

"We have so many seasons here that help us – holidays, graduations, first communions. If one part of the business is slow, another is pretty busy," he said. "The deli could be totally crazy one day and the bakery could be slow."

Today, there are still plenty of LaCascias to go around behind the scenes and counters. David serves as general manager while Anthony Jr., oversees the bakery as head pastry chef. Sister Renee puts her talents to good use decorating cakes. Anthony Sr. is still the owner.

But despite the number of immediate family members, David and his brother-in-law Chris Gaffey agree that much of the work couldn't be done without their extended family: The 30 full- and part-time employees that help keep the business running smoothly.

"We have a few employees that have been here since the store was opened," said David. "So even though they're not blood family, it's like they are family. Annie O'Sullivan has been here since day one. A lot of customers come in looking specifically for her."

Gaffey, who's been working in the bakery for 25 years, said the job has been rewarding.

"We have great customers and we make friends with them. They are part of the extended family," he said

David's sister, Renee LaCascia-Gaffey, has been working at the store since she was 13 and proudly admits she's been working there for 27 years.

Initially, the deli offered cold cuts and sandwiches and the bakery sold primarily bread and Italian pastries and specialty cakes, said David, adding the cake business has been good to the store.

"We sell so many birthday and graduation cakes. That's definitely one of the biggest sellers in the bakery," he said.

LaCascia's is also known for its marinated steak tips, he said.

"They are by far the biggest seller in the deli," said David. "They're pretty famous around here. The marinade makes them stand out. It's like a red rib glaze. We take a lot of pride in our steak tips."

Mary Keisinger of Wilmington said she's been a customer for many years, and usually stops in once a month.

"We're always satisfied," she said. "Everyone's always nice here."

Today, customers can have their parties catered or families can buy what David calls a "quality dinner for two-to-five people cooked by us."

"We don't buy frozen stuff and put it in the case. We make our lasagna from scratch. Angie Francesucci has been preparing a lot of the Italian food for 20 years," he said. "Everything is really fresh."

The LaCascias aren't standing still either. According to David, the bakery is installing a pizza oven and this summer will be delivering pizzas to customers.

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