The Next Generation
Anthony Artuso Jr. | Artuso Pastry | New York City
The street sign on the corner of 187th Street and Cambreleng Avenue reads "Vincent F. Artuso Sr. Way" and sits above a pastry shop that bears the same name. Artuso's has been an institution in the Belmont section of the Bronx, N.Y. (better known as the "Real Little Italy"), since 1946. It's an old- fashioned family-owned Italian bakery run by Vincent's son, Anthony Sr.
But the business visionary here is Anthony Jr., Vincent's grandson, who sometimes favors a T-shirt that says "Welcome to the Bronx!" "It's the slogan of our new ad campaign," he explains. "No matter where you are, that is what the Bronx feels, smells, and tastes like."
Like his father and grandfather before him, Anthony Jr. is a two-kisses-on-the-cheek neighborhood guy who sells a nice cannoli. But unlike his father and grandfather, Anthony Jr. has an ambition that extends far beyond Belmont. His baby is Artuso's wholesale division, which he runs in a 11,000-square-foot facility in Mount Vernon, N.Y., just north of the Bronx.
This part of the business had a rough start. Anthony Sr. leased the building, a former cheesecake factory, in 1997 and committed himself to his son's ambitious plans. Other family members were wary, however, and the factory sat vacant for 19 months while they hashed it out. Eventually, the family decided that an uncle would be a minority owner, but that Anthony Jr. would have final say when it came to operations.
The Artusos own the building now, and the division cranks out some 200,000 cannoli shells a week in peak season. Whole Foods and Hyatt hotels are customers. Wholesale revenue currently accounts for three out of every four dollars Artuso Pastry takes in -- and virtually all of the growth. Now Anthony Jr. is negotiating for a 25,000-square-foot facility in Mount Vernon.
In his ultramodern office, Anthony Jr. has a fully stocked bar, an aquarium, a lava lamp, and piles of books and magazines -- everything from Ayn Rand to Food & Wine to the Howard Schultz autobiography to an Encyclopedia of Art. Conversationally, though, the street slang mixes with the bizspeak. It's a Robert De Niro accent with Jim Collins ideas -- call it Goodfellas to Great. Anthony Jr. wants to push Artuso Pastry to $25 million in sales. But he is mindful of the fact that the business's local flavor is an asset. Sharing in the legacy on Vincent F. Artuso Sr. Way -- "That's good things," Anthony Jr. says. "Nothing but good things."