Bakery Opens For Business In Atlantic City

Renee Montagne talks to Frank Formica, owner of Formica Brothers Bakery and Cafe, in Atlantic City, N.J., about his experience during Hurricane Sandy.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And Super Storm Sandy caused massive flooding in Atlantic City, New Jersey, leaving much of it under water. We reached Frank Formica, he owns and runs the bakery and café his grandfather founded, Formica Brothers, in Atlantic City. Good morning.

FRANK FORMICA: Good morning. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Fine, thank you. So you're open for business this morning?

FORMICA: We were lucky enough to have electricity in our café section, and we are open with our products - pastry products, however, we're still waiting for power in our manufacturing bakery.

MONTAGNE: I must assume you did not sleep well last night, so I'm going to ask you what happened that you saw or found about when you got there this morning?

FORMICA: Well, actually, I didn't sleep at all last night. We prepared, certainly, the county and the state were preparing us for all of this, but at the end of the day what happened was that - I'm sorry, this is an emergency, can I take this call and standby please?

MONTAGNE: Yeah. Sure. Put us on hold.

FORMICA: One wire clipped of one of the transformers. It's sticking up in the air, it just can't, you know, it's just buzzing back and forth. It just needs to be connected. Please, please, all right? Thank you. Bye-bye. OK. I'm sorry. I'm trying to get electric restored.

MONTAGNE: Oh, no. No. No. No problem. But so back to what I was asking you, you didn't - so you said you didn't sleep at all last night.

FORMICA: No. Actually, I was awake most of the night. I slept two hours. Three o'clock I was up and I was able to assess the damage and it's devastation beyond anything in 60 years I can remember.

MONTAGNE: And what did you see out there?

FORMICA: Well, first of all, the wind damage was unprecedented, but we have about a ten-foot flood level here, and the water was well above, I would say 12, 13 feet in all of the low-lying areas, but more importantly, areas that never took water. Legendary restaurants and businesses that have been here for a hundred years or so, had two, three feet of water in their premises.

There were floating docks that had to be at the bay, maybe miles away, sitting in the middle of streets, and it's a massive cleanup that we now have to I guess deal with.

MONTAGNE: Well, what about you? What about the Formica Brothers Bakery?

FORMICA: Well, I have 27 employees that work in the bakery. I have another 10 support employees. We have 350 corporate accounts, almost every casino, restaurant, supermarkets, delis, sub shops now, most of them can't open today, but the ones off shore will be. And we make 20 to 50,000 loaves of bread a day. So it's no small operation that's being stopped here.

MONTAGNE: Well, you are - obviously we can hear it, you have people in there. I gather that you are serving coffee.

FORMICA: Well, we just opened up our café to the first responders. We're going to offer them free coffee, anybody that's working on crews or what have you like that. We do have some of my grandmother's original biscottis that are here and some cannoli, and we have some other pastries. So yes, we are open with coffee and some light fare.

MONTAGNE: Just now you had to put the phone down and stop talking to us because you had to tend to an emergency. What was that all about?

FORMICA: That emergency was that there is power down on our street, which it affects me, affects some of the other businesses, and that was one of the officials of Atlantic City Electric that I was explaining the problem to in an effort to expedite him to get a truck here before it's too late - by tonight. And I was telling him he could have a dozen - no, I didn't tell he could have a dozen cannolis. No. I didn't tell him that.

MONTAGNE: But are you going to give him a dozen cannolis (unintelligible)?

FORMICA: Of course I will. Of course.

MONTAGNE: Frank Formica is the third-generation owner of Formica Brothers Bakery in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Well, good luck to you, and thank you for talking with us.

FORMICA: Thank you.

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