Nino’s Italian Bakery cites labor shortage among reasons for closing after five decades

Jan. 16 is last service day for longtime Menomonee Falls business

Nino's Italian Bakery and Deli will close Jan. 16 in Menomonee Falls.

Last updated on January 5th, 2022 at 01:03 pm

Nino’s Italian Bakery and Deli in Menomonee Falls will the close after 54 years in business later this month as owners Nina and Tony “Nino” Sgroi retire.

Known for its fresh baked breads and staple hot ham and rolls, Nino’s will have its last day of service on Jan. 16, according to a recent Facebook post. The decision was a difficult one for the Sgrois and their five daughters, four of whom are involved in the business’ day-to-day operations.

Both nearing 80 years old, the Sgrois decided it was time to retire, and the second generation family members agreed they didn’t want to run the bakery without their parents, saying their role in the business is “irreplaceable.”

“Their involvement has become so scarce and they just can’t do it anymore … We don’t want them to feel obligated to come in, so we thought we need to retire it altogether instead of us trying to run it,” said Anne Marie Baier, one of the Sgrois’ daughters.

Nino’s has been around since 1968, when Sgroi and his father took over a Jewish bakery in Madison and learned the trade of baking. In 1970, the Sgrois relocated their bakery to Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood and operated there until moving to its much larger, current location in 2000. The move allowed Nino’s to add full-line catering, wholesale and deli service. 

“We brought a lot of the East Side to Menomonee Falls,” said Baier. 

These days, keeping up with daily operations is difficult with an ongoing hiring challenges across the service and hospitality sectors. Nino’s had been actively trying to staff up over the past year but their efforts resulted in only one new hire. Some of the younger third generation family members have lent a hand, but since they’ve been back in school, manpower is again limited and the work has become overwhelming.

One of Baier’s sisters works through the night baking bread but, over the past year, she’s felt obligated to also work during regular operating hours when the bakery is short staffed.

“We have a couch for her in her office,” said Baier. “She takes a nap for a few hours, she gets up and helps us the rest of the day, and then she comes back and does it again. … “It’s come to the point where we’re running ourselves ragged. We just can’t do it anymore.”

If Nino’s had been able to find more labor, she said, the business probably could have kept running. Another huge challenge amid the pandemic has been product sourcing. The bakery has had to stop making certain items because it’s unable to get the right ingredients.

Baier said the bakery’s 10,000-square-foot building, at N88 W16683 Main St., has been sold, but she declined to disclose the buyer or their plans for the property. 

As for the Sgrois and their family, a well-deserved vacation is the first order of business once the bakery closes. Baier and her sisters plans to pick up some sort of work, maybe continue baking. She said the hardest part will be not working with her parents everyday.

“The community has given us so much love, and I can’t tell you the overwhelming response we’ve gotten from all of this,” she said. “We couldn’t have been here today without all of them. Because of them, we continue to do what we do.” 

Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.

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