As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, but it may be too early to be philosophical for Naples Bakery customers, saddened by the recent announcement that the popular Evergreen Park bakery will close after 97 years on Dec. 31.
The fourth-generation family bakery that has been at 3705 W. 95th St. since 1963, dates back to 1918, when Alphonso Lauro, a native of Italy, opened the original location at 67th and Wood Street in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. He later moved to a bigger location nearby at 69th and Paulina.
He passed the business on to his son, Joseph Lauro. He died in 2000, and the bakery is now run by his daughter, Marijo Nowobielski, and her daughter, Jennifer Mavrogiannis.
Throughout its nearly 100-year history, many generations of Chicago-area residents came to the bakery that was known for its wedding cakes, and cakes for every occasion, as well as cannoli and all sorts of other pastries made using recipes handed down from Italy.
In the announcement placed on its front door at 3705 W. 95th St., and on its Facebook page, the bakery owners said “It is with a heavy heart and deepest regret that we must announce the closing of our bakery on Dec. 31... Naples Bakery has proudly served the Chicagoland community for the last 97 years. We have developed many friendships and loyal customers and for that we are forever grateful.”
According to the statement, Barraco’s Pizza, located next-door at 3701 W. 95th St., will be taking over the space as part of its expansion plans. Barraco’s is currently undergoing a renovation following a kitchen fire that occurred in September. The fire caused Naples to close for almost a week due to water and damage. Barraco’s, another family-owned business, bought the Naples building in October, according to published reports.
The owners of Naples later clarified their statement on Facebook, stressing that Barraco’s did not force them out, as some commenters had suggested.
“Over the last 36 years that Naples and Barraco’s have been neighbors we have become very close like a family. After 97 years in business the Naples family decided the time had come,” said the owners, who could not be reached for comment earlier this week.
As soon as the announcement was placed on Facebook, dozens of customers left comments about their traditions of going there, and how sad they were to hear the news.
“Your cannolis and sprinkle cookies are an indelible part of my childhood. Today, a wonderful reminder of my very missed grandparents. So sad to see Naples go. Thank you for giving so many delicious memories,” said one woman.
“I can’t remember a family gathering without Naples baked goods on the table,” said one woman who got her wedding cake there 47 years ago.
“The best chocolate doughnuts ever,” said Mary King, of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood. “My mother used to go there, and I continue the tradition.”
Longtime employee Fannie Lambropoulos, of Oak Lawn, said she is as sad as the customers.
“I’ve been here working behind the counter for years and years. The customers are great and it is like a family. I’m not looking forward to my last day of work,” she said.