30 Newell Street, West Warwick
(401) 821-8007
www.westcottbakery.com

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The current incarnation of the Westcott Baking Company was founded in 1956 and has always operated out of its 30 Newell Street location.

Bakery co-proprietor JoAnna Pinga tells us that the bakery "was started by my parents on July 20, 1956. My father, Joseph Pinga, worked for a couple of Providence bakers starting at the age of seven. After returning to Rhode Island from his Navy service he met my mother (her grandfather owned Golato's Bakery in Providence), and came across Westcott Bakery for sale in West Warwick. It was an old two-story house with the bakery on the first floor and an apartment on the second. The Providence bakers told him he was crazy to buy the place (the bakery was small and run-down and he was only twenty-six, etc.), but he fell in love with the brick oven and equipment. He bought the bakery and was left with $7.20 to his name, but he believed in himself and the quality product he produced."

"They struggled the first couple of years. My father used to say, 'if you put your nose to the grindstone you'll make it.' And he did just that, making home deliveries and operating the first year without a telephone. Two years later my parents married. They had four children and we all grew up above the bakery helping out after school. Many renovations and years later the brick oven has yielded to machines that can turn out 720 dozen rolls and 800 loaves of Italian bread an hour."

JoAnna says that the original bakery, which was run by three siblings, was named for its location in the "Westcott" section of West Warwick. She doesn't know how long it was a bakery before her father bought it, only that "it was one of maybe five houses in that neighborhood at the time and those neighbors always remembered it as a bakery." When the Pingas acquired it, the bakery was strictly a wholesale operation, and they carried on that tradition, supplying baked goods to restaurants, markets, delis, and bar and grills under the Westcott Farm name. "Greenwood Inn started around the same time as my dad," JoAnna offered by way of example, "and they have been with us ever since." The list of Westcott's wholesale accounts includes many names you would recognize, and JoAnna and her brother Michael are always looking for opportunities to expand the market for their products.

In the 1970s, a storefront was added to take advantage of a growing demand for retail sales. "Neighbors smelled the bread baking and wanted to buy it," says JoAnna, "so the little vestibule became the first storefront."

The vestibule she mentioned is now the entrance to the storefront, and contains a small museum of baking antiques and memorabilia, including a hand cranked dough mixer pail, at one time the cutting edge of time-saving bakery technology.

If you prefer your pizza strips with a sweeter sauce, you're going to love the strips at Westcott Baking Company. The bakery produces "an average of about 300 to 350 trays per week," says JoAnna, "and we just started supplying pizza strips to convenience stores a few weeks ago [September 2011] in the Kent County area." While pizza strips are a big part of their business, Westcott Bakery is most popular for their Italian bread and rolls. The bread recipes were developed by Joseph Pinga himself: "Our bread recipe is very different from any other bakers," says JoAnna, "and it's apparent in the taste." A bevy of different sizes, shapes, and textures of rolls, Texas toast, and pepper, wine and egg biscuits round out the product roster. "We also do home-style Italian chicken soup in the fall and winter," adds JoAnna. "This year [2011] we plan to expand on more products for the storefront."

Family bonds, which now include a third generation of Pingas, are a central element of the Westcott Baking Company's success. "My brother Michael Pinga (Rhode Island Senator district 9) is President of the corporation. His two daughters, Nicole (fourteen) and Michaella (eleven) like to spend time with their dad so they help out on occasion." JoAnna pitches in here and there as needed, as do a number of other extended family members, and also "we are fortunate to have several dedicated employees who have been with us for years and have become like family to us."

Having just celebrated their fifty-fifth anniversary in 2011, the Pinga family looks forward to the future. "Maybe someday," says JoAnna, "Michael's kids will celebrate Westcott's 100th Anniversary."

Westcott Baking Company is open Tuesday to Friday, 8am-12 noon; Saturday and Sunday, 7:30am-12:30pm.

The bakery's products can also be found at Summertime farmers' markets: Saturdays, 9am-noon, at the West Warwick Farmer's Market at Cowesett Avenue Plaza; Sundays, 9am-2pm, at the Centre Market Farmer's Market in Coventry; and Tuesdays, 4-7pm, at the Paine House Museum, Station Street, Coventry.

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