Joey Tittoni made all of the pastries that he and his wife, Pat, once sold at their coffee shop on Folsom and 21st streets.
Now, he says, he’s having to restart his business from scratch.
Up until the last day in March, his more than two-year-old business was going well. Then, at 2 a.m. on March 31, a Lexus plowed into the front of his bakery, making the building look like a lopsided cake and causing enough structural damage to close the beloved corner bakery.
“I used to work 24/7, you know, so, I am taking this as a vacation,” he says. “When something like this happens, you have to make the best of it. We are cleaning; we have to be prepared to start over. We are starting from zero.”
He says he has started from zero before. He first learned how to bake in Italy, spending 14 years working with a family in Rome.
When he was a teenager and wanted new shoes, he said, his mother would tell him to bake pastries to earn his shoes. He did and acquired a trade in the process. When he arrived in the United States, he worked at several shops, including Dianda’s on Mission Street.
What he wanted, he said, was to bring a slice of his Italy to the Mission and in November, 2011, he and his wife opened Joe & Pat’s Bakery. In a time of hipster bakeries it seemed a bit like a throw back, but it was one that worked - in no time at all, the bakery had a following.
Nowadays, while he wades through the process of building permits, he keeps busy teaching baking at City College, donating food to the local churches and overseeing some of the construction at his bakery.
Mostly, he said, the delays getting permits have been similar to those that he had when he first opened the shop. Friends confirmed this.
“It’s taken one month and a half to get a permit from the city to put the building back [to how it used to be], the structure, the door,” said Mary, a friend who was at the bakery waiting for a contractor. “It takes time.”
Mary, who declined to give her last name, added that the landlord had been helpful and that fortunately the insurance company will be covering the construction expenses.
Brett Howard, a building inspector, said the bakery has the permit for the structural framing and the structural concrete. They still need the permit for electrical work.
So far, they’ve replaced the foundation, and remodeled the entrance and two front windows. Once everything is finished, they’ll need a final inspection.
“The life of a baker is very tough,” said Joey Tittoni, referring to the long hours and early mornings, but mostly, he said, he feels bad about his customers who come by often asking when he will reopen.
“This month…it has to be this month,” he said.