The Star Ledger featured a fantastic story on Frank Formica earlier this month. In case you missed the story, do check out “Atlantic City bakery perseveres amid changing times,” by Judy DeHaven. Ms. DeHaven said, in part:
Frank Formica is a bread baker, down to the core.
Sure, he had his moments. After high school, he toyed with the idea of moving to L.A. to become a rock star, although he didn’t get much further than the carnies in Cape May. And he did leave baking — once — for a stint at Resorts International.
But he always returned to Ducktown, once the “Little Italy” of Atlantic City, to a quaint bakery on Arctic Avenue across the street from the legendary White House Sub Shop.
There, the Formica Bros. Bakery still uses the recipe his grandparents created nearly a century ago to churn out 45,000 pieces of bread a day, along with tomato pies, biscotti and cannolis.
“Flour is in my blood,” he said.
If you have never tried Formica Bakery and Cafe’s products, shame on you. Their food is delicious.
When Frank Formica returned to Ducktown in 1987, the bakery had hardly changed.
The coal-burning stove his grandfather had installed in 1927 was still operating. But since it did not comply with new environmental rules, it had to go.
As Frank put it: “I had to try to take this stone and bearskin and turn it into a mnemonic memory circuit.”
And the neighborhood was different.
“There were crackhouses, gun-trafficking,” Frank recalled. “But this was my neighborhood. So I stood to build the business up.”
He installed a brick-lined gas oven and doubled the size of the production area. Using his casino contacts, he expanded and turned it into a 24-hour bakery.
Atlantic City is blessed to have Frank Formica’s dedication to the Ducktown neighborhood.