The name “Gonnella” conjures up visions of freshly baked, aromatic, crisp-crusted breads across the Chicago food landscape. Connoisseurs and grocery shoppers alike know this name stands for true hearth-baked product that is baked fresh every day of the year.
The Gonnella Baking Company produces over four million pounds of product weekly, in our four modern facilities. The current production capabilities are far more sophisticated and extensive than the original operation, which processed a few hundred loaves weekly in a basement shop on Chicago’s De Koven Street. The bread that comes out of the ovens today is the same top quality product that Alessandro Gonnella produced in his small, wood burning oven when he founded the company over a century ago.
In 1886 Alessandro purchased a small storefront bakery on Chicago’s De Koven Street where he had learned his trade. Since he was the operation’s sole employee he mixed the doughs, baked the bread, delivered the products and even kept the books for his fledgling neighborhood enterprise. Because of his tireless dedication and commitment to quality Alessandro’s little business thrived.
In 1896, he moved his Gonnella Bakery to a larger building on Sangamon Street near Ohio Street. By then he had brought his wife, Marianna Marcucci, over from his northern Italian village of Barga. In the early 1900’s his teen-aged brothers-in-law, Lawrence, Nicholas and Luigi Marcucci joined him in the United States to assist Alessandro in his growing business.
In 1915, the Erie Street plant was built and a fleet of horse drawn wagons made over 200 deliveries each day. Additional plants were purchased and by the end of World War II the higher volume sales to grocery stores and restaurants had supplanted home deliveries.
Over the years business continued to grow. In the mid-1970’s Gonnella entered the frozen dough market, establishing a strong presence as a supplier of the highest quality doughs for the in-store bakery industry. The company’s efforts in this niche proved very successful, and in 1980 a plant was purchased in Schaumburg, Illinois, dedicated exclusively to this purpose. Gonnella frozen dough products are now distributed nationwide.
The Gonnella-Marcucci Families continue operating the bakeries much as their grandfather and great-grandfather did so many years ago. At this time as many as 36 family members work for the company, carrying on the vision and pride upon which the business was founded.