Zaro’s to open Port Morris store

Bakers in Zaro’s Port Morris factory prepare challah.

Bakery that has baked in the Bronx for 90 years, will soon serve local clientele

Zaro’s Family Bakery, whose stores are found in the city’s transportation hubs in Midtown, unloads thousands of loaves of challah, pumpernickel and black and white cookies week after week. But no matter where it’s sold, every pastry starts off in the Bronx.

Baked in a brick factory on Brucker Boulevard in Port Morris, all the company’s famous breads and cookies are made from scratch around the clock by nearly 80 employees. And early next year, Zaro’s will bring its retail operation back to the borough as well, with new stores in Port Morris and Parkchester.

“My grandparents use to take my sister and I into Zaro’s every Sunday after church services,” said Hunts Point local Blanca Rodriguez, 42. “My grandfather always let us each pick a dessert while he picked up a loaf of rye for the rest of the household.”

Zaro’s is a fourth-generation, family-owned business founded in Port Morris in 1927 by Joseph Zaro, a Jewish immigrant from Poland. His sons, grandsons and great-grandsons have carried on the business, and now, 90 years later, the family has eight locations between Newark and Midtown, including Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal.

The first bakery opened last month in Parkchester, two doors down from the original borough location, which was closed in 2015 when the company was not offered a chance to renew its lease. The second bakery will open early spring 2018 in Port Morris at 138 Bruckner Blvd, connecting to the commercial bakery.

Brian Zaro, the company’s executive vice president and grandson of Joseph Zaro, said in addition to reopening the doors of the Parkchester location, adding another location in the Bronx was something the family has talked about for years. “This will allow the neighborhood to see our family first-hand,” he said.

Back in the 1970s, there were 20 Zaro’s bakeries across the city, but as sales declined, locations slowly closed down one by one. Later in the decade, Zaro’s took a chance and shifted to commuter hubs, opening in the baggage claim area of Grand Central Terminal back in 1977. Commuters could grab morning breakfast and return for a late night snack. Moving the factory from Parkchester to Port Morris made sense.

“My grandfather moved our factory into Port Morris in 1982 because of the proximity to Manhattan,” said Zaro.

Zaro’s goes through approximately 1.5 million pounds of flour every year to make 100,000 loaves of challah bread, 1.5 million bagels, and about 350,000 of its famous black-and-white-cookies.

Zaro said the best part of the bakeries is “getting to work with my family every single day.” The company plans to continue looking for new retail locations after the Port Morris opening.

Caleb Brance, 26, a Mott Haven native, said he is looking forward to having Zaro’s back in town, and even closer to where he lives.

“It was sad to see those guys close down a couple of years ago,” said Brance. “I had to resort to a new breakfast place. But I’m glad to see that they’re back. They’ve got the best rolls and layer cakes on the block.”