Press

Raynham's Art's Bakery still on a roll into 4th decade
Taunton Daily Gazette — February 1, 2011

Arthur Cabral’s life story reads like the American dream, particularly in the Portuguese community, where the bakery business has always been vital.

“It’s the American dream, yeah,” Cabral said, sitting in the little room off the bakery plant, used to consult with customers about wedding cakes. He was dressed in a white apron and baseball cap, because at age 66, he still works.

Art’s Bakery is now located at 104 Forge River Parkway in Raynham, easily accessible off South Street behind Stop and Shop. The retail store opened last fall, with new cold cases, racks and lots of floor space, a welcome change from the cramped retail area at both his other stores. The store is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to noon on Sunday.

The baking plant has been located at the site for 12 years, baking and delivering breads and pastries to his stores in Taunton on Washington Street and Weir Street. The catastrophic arson fire that destroyed the Washington Street location forced him to consider other options. When a printing business folded at the Forge River Parkway store front, Cabral acted quickly. “I’ve told this story many times before,” he said, smiling, but he told it again.

Cabral was born to be a baker, it seems, having worked with his grandfather on Santa Maria, the smallest island in the Azores. His business acumen must come from his grandfather, who had windmills and milled flour. He started taking flour in payment, and with his wife, began baking bread at home to sell. An American Army depot was on the island, and his grandfather started to supply them near the end of World War II. After the war, Cabral’s father began making plans to come to America, but he died, and the quota for immigrants closed. Finally, in 1954, his mother and her four children came to America.

Cabral, who started working for his grandfather when he was 10, wanted to learn more about the bakery business, and joined the long-established Steve’s bakery in Taunton at 15. He moved on to Fernandes Supermarkets, where, he said, the first supermarket bakeries were built. “That’s where I got most of my knowledge,” Cabral said. “You worked with different bakers, who were Swedish and Italian. I worked there 11 years. I figured if I could make money for Fernandes, I could make money for myself.” Beginning in 1973, he worked out of his garage in Taunton, making pastries and breads for local caterers. He worked part time at Dunkin Donuts and Colonial Donuts, and in 1977, bought the former fish market on Washington Street in Taunton for $24,000. Over the years he had bought equipment from sites including a lunch wagon supplier and the soon-to-be-demolished Taunton High School. Now he is comfortably settled at Forge River Parkway.

 



Photo by Ashley Daubenmire

At Thanksgiving, the store sold more than 2,500 pies, and then came the Christmas rush. He said the business is seasonal, with a lull in January and February, an upswing for Easter, weddings and graduations, and then another lull after Fourth of July. Art’s Bakery has supplied bread to restaurants for years, including Holiday Inn in Mansfield and Taunton, the Seacrest resort and Charlie’s in Wareham. Cabral also “went to the next level,” supplying Sysco and Cirelli’s with par-baked rolls. “Supermarket bakeries killed the baking business,” Cabral said, but added, “The supermarkets had no choice than to switch to baking products, like the par baked rolls. They could have help that didn’t need to be experienced.”

He faced tough competition when Market Basket opened on Route 138 several years ago, and spent $60,000 to remodel the Washington Street store. “I survived. I survived fairly well,” said. “Bakeries won’t be around in the future, except for specialties, like wedding cakes.” The cakes in the retail store are the fastest selling items. The store also has grape nut custard, meat pies, pastries, pies, cookies and breads, including a big loaf of old fashioned Portuguese sweet bread. Loaves of fresh bread sell for 99 cents. Cabral sells at a low price to get people to come to the store.

What is Arthur Cabral’s favorite item in his bakery? “I like to grab a Portuguese roll when it’s hot from the oven,” he said, laughing.

What's Baking at Art's?