After a three-month respite, Armand "The Baker" Argenio reopened the Bread & Butter Bakery on May 1.
Once again, residents and local restaurants will have access to the baguettes, split rolls, braided breads and more that can only be found at Bread & Butter, located at 602 SE 4th Street in Milford.
Argenio said he closed the bakery, which he's owned since 1998, for several reasons – high fuel and flour prices, personal health problems and much needed repairs to the facility.
Now, he's ready to hit the ground running.
Stephen Masten, director of Economic Development for the City of Milford, said Argenio's reopening is a boost for the community and its economy.
"It's going to help the restaurants who miss his product, and he's going to put some more people back to work in Milford," Masten said. "These are all key elements in terms of keeping businesses in business."
Masten said he's received a few leads regarding parties who may be interested in buying the bakery from the 82-year-old third generation baker, but nothing is concrete.
Until then, Argenio said he's back in shape – he did some physical therapy over the past three months – and he jokingly alluded to going "out dancing."
Argenio is originally from Naples, Italy. When he was 3 years old, Argenio's parents moved to Philadelphia, where he opened his first bakery in 1956. He said business was good but, "the neighborhood changed. It got a little dangerous."
Argenio said he chose Milford because he'd spent time in the area vacationing in Rehoboth Beach and he liked the tax structure and the people.
Argenio said his cooking methods, as well as his 1951 Union Steel revolving oven, are what sets him apart.
Argenio is a firm believer in the practice of fermentation, which he says is hardly used anymore.
"It's used, but the bread is not based on fermentation – people use shortcuts," he said. "It takes time for the dough to rise and ferment before you use it. It really makes a difference in the taste. It's also fresh. I bake it all night, so it's hot when people come in."
The oven, which was made by a company that no longer exists, is the reason Argenio bought the bakery in Milford. It can hold 27 dozen rolls at once.
"It's like a Ferris wheel," Argenio said. "But it's small, commercially speaking. The oven I had in Philadelphia could hold 108 dozen rolls."
Argenio will be open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. He is seeking local restaurants that may be interested in carrying his product, but the bakery is also open to the public. For more information, call 422-5462.