Celebrating 30 years in business with Williamsburg-based family-run Settepani Bakery

Williamsburg’s prized Settepani Bakery (602 Lorimer St.) is turning 30, and the Setepani family is inviting the entire community to celebrate with them.

Settepani’s 30th birthday party will take place on October 23rd at 602 Lorimer Street from noon to 3pm, with delicious food, drinks and music.

Settepani Bakery is a family owned business known for its delicious Italian breads, cakes, pastries, desserts and Italian breads made all year round in four days. In Italian, the word Setepani translates as “seven loaves”, making the family business almost inevitable.

The Settepani brand is helmed by Chef Nino Settepani, who has been in the restaurant business for 46 years. Nino’s parents immigrated to the United States from Italy when he was 14. After settling in New York, Settepanis found a bakery for sale in Manhattan’s Village area, and the family business was born.

However, Nino didn’t want to work in the bakery at first. After attending NYU, Nino interned at a bank in Greenpoint, but didn’t care about the business. After that, he was happy to go to the bakery with his family.

The Settepani family includes (from left) Leah Abraham, Seyoum Settepani, Bilena Settepani and Chef Nino Settepani.Photo: Setepani Bakery

The Brooklyn branch of Settepani Bakery opened 30 years ago. Wholesale operations for bakeries are expanding and need more physical space. Nino chose the Williamsburg neighborhood because it was where he lived and he wanted to be close to the wholesale location.

Nino’s daughter Bilena Settepani told green pointer“We’ve survived wholesale for a long time and have a fleet of vans that can deliver pastries to hospitals, universities and other big customers around the city.”

At Setepani Bakery, Panettoni hangs upside down to dry.Photo: Setepani Bakery

Then, of course, the pandemic crippled Setepani’s business, as it has done to many others. “We lost 90% of our business in an instant as hotels and restaurants closed,” explains Bilena.

Belena, who worked in fashion before the pandemic, eventually quit her job to help her family at Setepani Bakery. She helps out with a few things now, mostly in marketing, but is also a baker. “The bakery is like my older siblings, and I can imagine life without it,” says Billena.

During the pandemic, Bilena said the Settepani family received letters and emails to check in, a testament to what a bakery and family means to their neighbors.

Leah Abraham, wife of chef Nino and mother of Bilena Settepani.Photo: Setepani Bakery

The pandemic has been difficult not only for the business, but also on a personal level for the Setepani family. First, Bilena’s mother, Leah Abraham, was diagnosed with cancer three days before New York closed. Then, Belena’s grandmother and Nino’s mother, Philippa Setepani, died.

Philippa “is the face of the bakery” and “makes this place special,” says Bilena. She explained that the bakery used to have a magical feeling that has disappeared since her grandmother passed away.

Chef Nino’s mother, Filippa Settepani, worked in the bakery in the 1990s.Photo: Setepani Bakery

Bilena was desperate to restore the magic and started small projects like painting walls and removing lights that didn’t work. She also covered the graffiti on the exterior walls with artificial flowers and ivy. “It makes the whole place prettier and more inviting,” says Bilena.

Belena knows that Williamsburg has changed a lot in the past 30 years. The new customers in the community are very different than they were in the past, and she believes that for Setepani to be successful, they need to attract new communities. “We need to get people through the gates,” she said. “Wholesale is back, but we also need foot traffic.”

Bilena Settepani with bakery famous panettone.Photo: Setepani Bakery

After the 30th anniversary celebrations, Bilena said locals can look forward to more fun and engaging events, such as holiday cooking classes or cookie decorating classes.

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