Popular Taunton bakery born again in Raynham
Taunton Gazette—October 12, 2010

Just over two years after his popular Taunton bakery was destroyed by arson, Arthur Cabral is preparing to launch its replacement.

Cabral, owner of Art's International Bakery, said his new retail store will have a "soft opening" in about two weeks, with a grand opening to follow.

The new bakery will occupy the front portion of Cabral's 10,000-square-foot wholesale facility at 104 Forge River Parkway, which is located in a small Raynham business park known as Forge River Business Park.

All of Art's International Bakery's signature birthday cakes, pastries and Portuguese-style rolls and sweet breads are baked on-site every day.

The business park, the entrance to which is off South Street West, also includes a 40B affordable-housing development consisting of 29 single-family homes.

"It was a tough decision," the 65-year-old Cabral said of the plan to replace his famous Washington Street bakery. "I really don't know what's going to happen." He said he felt compelled to invest the $200,000 needed to convert storage space into a contemporary-style display area complete with hanging lights, purple pastel walls and a private "consultant room," where prospective brides and their families can meet with cake designers.

He also repaved the parking lot and added a handicap-accessible ramp, the latter of which, he said, cost $25,000. Cabral said he's been losing $8,000 to $10,000 per week in sales since the Washington Street bakery closed after catching fire in the early morning hours of Aug. 12, 2008. A Taunton man, Manuel Arruda, was indicted on federal charges in connection with the fire and is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court.

In addition to lost revenue, Cabral said he had no choice but to lay off 15 part-time workers. He said he did manage, however, to keep four out of five full-timers by transferring them to the Raynham site and to his small bakery shop at 210 Weir St. in Taunton.

At one time, Cabral had intentions of rebuilding the Washington Street site as a combination bakery (with a drive-thru lane) and apartment building.

But the city's Zoning Board of Appeals denied his request to re-zone the property earlier this year, after hearing testimony and accepting a petition from neighbors concerned about increased traffic in the area of Washington and Jackson streets. "That's their (the neighbors) right," Cabral said with a shrug.


Art Cabral inside new bakery in Raynham

Cabral said he eventually wants to add as many as six new workers - most of them on a part-time basis - to work in the Raynham shop. They'll be trained, he said, by a handful of experienced staff from the Weir Street bakery. He added that the new shop will also have three small tables, each with two chairs.

Cabral acknowledges that running a retail shop in an inconspicuous business park just over the Taunton-Raynham line presents a challenge - specifically in terms of reclaiming former customers, some of whom still live within walking distance of the former Washington Street location.

In order to get the word out, Cabral said he'll invest in a comprehensive advertising campaign. But, he said, he'll also have to develop a customer base extending beyond the immediate Taunton area.

To accomplish this, he hired a Web designer, 1-Stop Design Shop to create and install a user-friendly on-line order system. Cabral said a customer, for example, will be able to zoom in on the image of a cake for a Christening celebration, while discussing details on the phone with one of the bakery's trained cake decorators.

"I want everyone in Mansfield to shop at Art's without having to leave the house," Cabral said.

Cabral noted that he's already gotten an assist from his computer-savvy daughter, Joy, who has updated and tweaked the business's Web site.

Cabral, a Portuguese immigrant, said he started off selling home-baked goods out of his garage and to local stores and markets. Clients now include supermarket chains, hotels and restaurants, he said.

He opened the Washington Street bakery on July 7, 1977 (or 7-7-'77, as he points out), in what was originally a barracks for the former Myles Standish Army Camp. "We ran 24-7 - we were extremely busy. I outgrew the place," he said. Cabral added the Weir Street bakery in 1984 and in 1998 bought the empty Raynham building, which he said had previously been a fish-and-chips joint called Donovan's.

What's Baking at Art's?