Salvatore Falcone finally gets to lie in after 55 years of baking
Salvatore Falcone outside his famous shop
January 2, 2023
It will be the real end of an era in Merton Park on Saturday (January 7) when Salvatore Falcone closes Panetteria Italiana for the final time.
Mr Falcone has run the traditional Italian bakery, which is a familiar landmark on Kingston Road opposite the Merton Hall Road junction, since 1968.
He celebrates his 78th birthday on Monday and has decided that it is time to stop getting up in the early hours to make fresh bread, pizza and other Italian bakery items.
"I have been working 17 hour days for so long, and can't carry on any more. " he said. "I want to spend time on the things I enjoy, like motor racing."
He has been getting up at midnight every day to bake bread and other traditional Italian items six days a week. On Sundays he does the shopping and pops next door with the washing to the Maypine laundrette, which has also been on Merton Park Parade for more than 50 years. He goes to sleep from around 6pm.
His shop, famous for its speciality breads, pizzas and hot cross buns at Easter, has attracted custom from local residents as well as customers from further afield. It is quite normal to see a queue outside the door.
One local resident, who contacted www.wimbledonsw19.com, said: "He still attracts queues of customers daily and will be sorely missed.
"I've been a customer since I began going to Manor House Nursery School (on the corner of Dorset Road) at the age of three - and now aged 50, am still eating his food right now!
"For the last three years he's supplied St Andrew's Church in Herbert Road with massive pizzas for birthday parties and my son's sixth birthday party next Saturday will be the last - on the day he closes."
Together with wife Sebastiana, Mr Falcone has also supplied local businesses with his products as well as lunch (and breakfast) for thousands of schoolchildren at the nearby Rutlish School.
As well as Mr Falcone's own baked goods, he has sold other Italian products, including cheese, salami, ham, pasta and biscuits. They have been selling off the long-lasting goods, ready for Saturday's final day.
Mr Falcone - a proud Sicilian - says they will continue living above the shop. He is also hopeful that one day his family will continue the baking side of the business, but not run the shop itself.
However, he is conscious of the historic nature of his shop's signage, which cannot be altered and is a familiar sight to all passing by. He says the frontage will be preserved.
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