TORONTO – The patriarch of a family-run bakery west of Toronto is dead after an ongoing battle with COVID-19.
In a post on SanRemo Bakery and Cafés on Instagram page Thursday, the Bozzo family confirmed that Natale Bozzo had died after six weeks in hospital.
He fought hard, he was in good health before that and we learned about his failed health through very difficult phone calls from the hospital and thankfully we were able to say goodbye, the post reads.
Born in 1945, Bozzo emigrated to Canada from Italy at the age of 15.
He started working in the Toronto Little Italy neighborhood in Bakil Sicilia on College Street before opening SanRemo Bakery with his brothers in Etobicoke in 1969.
Bozzo would become the sole owner of the bakery located on Royal York Boulevard and Simpson Avenue in the 1990s with his three sons.
He would later retire, but the family said Bozzo often helped around the oven as it was his passion.
He was an incredible baker and the most hardworking man we know. He was resilient and agile. He was polite and a friend to everyone, the family said in the post.
Known for its Italian-inspired dishes and superfluous sweets, the Etobicoke production was forced to close its doors on January 22 after four employees, including Bozzo, tested positive for COVID-19. They reopened for business on February 6th.
The bakery said at the time that it was working with Toronto Public Health and was following their advice on how to move forward.
In the weeks that followed, Bozzo’s condition worsened in the hospital, according to his son, Robert.
“We put it on the fan,” he told CTV News Toronto on Friday. “He made that choice to go, which, you know, he was scared of.”
The family said Bozzo’s death would be followed by what they describe as an inexplicable time of grief.
He said the secret of baking was to put a pinch of love into everything, and also to miss that pinch in ways we could not describe.
On Thursday evening, Prime Minister Doug Ford expressed his condolences.
“My condolences go to Rob, Nick, Ed and the entire family of Natale Bozzo, a true local champion who pursued his passions,” Ford wrote. “A family-owned business, SanRemo Bakery and Café has been a staple in Etobicoke for many years. God bless the Bozzo family.”
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Leafs President Branden Shannahan also paid tribute to the Toronto baker.
“Very sad when I heard about the death of Natale Bozzo, growing up just a few blocks away, the SanRemo Furnace has always been part of our celebrations and special occasions,” Shannahan wrote Thursday night.
SanRemo was open for receptions on Friday and customers were eager to share what Bozzo’s legacy had for them.
Stephen Ruth said he visits the bakery every day. “Like home, it’s the community, the family, I know everyone and all the employees,” he said.
After getting a pizza, Liz Roy said, “the heart and soul of this neighborhood is quiet.”
Bozzo was 75 years old.
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