Allegretti’s serving four generations and counting
Tom Allegretti (left), baker at Allegretti's Bakery, and fellow baker Luigi Pompeo work on goods. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
7717 W. Lawrence Ave. in Norridge
(708) 453 4412
Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.
Special 50th anniversary events include gingerbread house giveaways and raffles. Santa will make an appearance on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:11AM
NORRIDGE — Allegretti’s Bakery still serves as a local hangout, even if those milling about sport a little gray in their hair.
In addition to a half dozen people coming to pick up orders one weekday were a few people standing around drinking coffee and sharing stories.
The bakery, which next month will celebrate its 50th anniversary at 7717 W. Lawrence Ave. in Norridge, has served four generation of customers, said Linda Ahern, daughter of founder Anthony.
“We grew up in the bakery,” she said. “So did a lot of our friends.
“On Sundays, after we did the baking and cleaned up, we used to have parties in the back with our family and our friends.”
Tom Jagusch remembers those times well.
“I went to kindergarten with Ace,” he said of Michael Allegretti, who took over the business after his father died in 1973. “I’ve known Ace forever.”
Allegretti said the recipes were hard to replicate at first because his father always seemed to leave out one ingredient.
And then there was the time with the pound cake.
“It was a very precise recipe,” Allegretti said. “You had to add the sugar at the right moment.”
Ahern didn’t realize her brother already had done that step, so she added sugar.
“It was looking good for a while,” she said. “It was rising, and rising. Then we knew something was wrong.
“We spent a lot of time scraping the oven,” she said with a laugh.
Jagusch said the bakery still not only provides good food, but also good times.
“I like the tastings,” he said.
Allegretti’s opened shop in 1952 at Lexington and Kedzie avenues in Chicago. The family, which also includes Anthony Jr., Tom and Carol, moved to Norridge in 1962.
“Since the day we opened, the town has been so receptive to an Italian bakery,” Ahern said. “And we discovered how many of our old customers from Chicago were here.
“We thrived on word-of-mouth.”
That and flyers left on cars parked at Divine Savior Catholic Church, so many years ago.
Back in those days, wedding cakes had six tiers, and the Allegrettis needed a ladder to cut the cake into serving pieces. Today, the bakery has expanded its services to include selling to grocery stores and also catering to the changing neighborhood desires.
“We make onion bread, kolacke” Ahern said.
The day before Ash Wednesday presents a challenge because many items are made to order, including paczki, the jam-filled delicacy also know as bismarcks or jelly doughnuts.
As the bakery gears up for its anniversary, Ace Allegretti noted the family ties still are strong.
“The entire family helps,” he said. “My brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. And in a few years, my grandnephew.”
Ahern credited her father with giving the family the proper perspective.
“Father was a gentle soul,” she said. “He worked like a dog, but he instilled something in us.”