Another Seattle institution is closing up shop. On Saturday, March 20, Remo Borracchini’s Bakery and Mediterranean Market — beloved by locals for nearly a century — announced it will not reopen after being closed all winter. In a Facebook post, ownership cited the pandemic’s impact as the primary reason for the decision.
“Remo Borracchini’s Bakery is known for our wonderful cakes and because of this, we are in the party business. The problem with that is no one has been gathering over this past year to have those parties,” the statement from Borracchini’s read. “Needless to say, it was devastating to our business.”
Borracchini’s received an outpouring of support after the announcement, with its Facebook generating 2,000 comments and more than 3,000 shares. Many commenters extolled the meticulously decorated desserts that served as centerpieces for countless celebrations over the decades, packaged in the familiar pink box with the bakery’s name in blue calligraphy.
“Literally every cake my grandma got me for my birthday each year came from there,” Robin Wehl Martin of acclaimed bakery Hello Robin tells Eater Seattle. “I remember the breadsticks you could buy in bulk, and the butter cookies with sprinkles, which definitely started my passion for baking and trying everything. It really was a Seattle staple.”
In a town that saw quite a bit of development over the decades, Borracchini’s was a comfort food fixture. Its history traces back to the early 1920s, when the founding family emigrated from Tuscany and plied their trade in the Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley neighborhood. Patriarch Mario Borracchini started up a bakery in his basement, before it eventually landed at its current location on Rainier Avenue South in 1939, per the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.
Though sweets was a Borracchini’s specialty, the store also sold pastas, olive oil, sauces, bread, deli meats, and other pantry staples, in addition to other baked goods besides cakes. Mario passed the business along to his sons Dino, Angelo, and Remo, until Remo fully took over in 1965; soon after, the bakery leaned into its excellent special occasion reputation. The bakery’s influence was so widespread, owner Remo once mused to the Seattle Times that, on a given Saturday, over 13,000 people in Seattle were likely eating the bakery’s wedding cakes. Most recently, his three daughters, Lisa Desimone, Mimi Norris, and Nannette Heye, had been running the show.
The sad news about Borracchini’s landed on the same weekend that another Italian icon of the Seattle food scene said goodbye, just a few blocks away. On Sunday, the original 1953-built Oberto shop on Rainier Avenue — known for its emphatic neon Oh Boy! sign — closed permanently, making way for an extension of the nearby Hamlin Robinson School, which helps students with dyslexia and other learning-based challenges. The famed sausage and jerky maker will continue its operations in Kent and Renton, though, and unlike Borracchini’s, the departure had been planned pre-pandemic.