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Vaughan-based bakery and cafe hopeful about holiday season despite rising costs of doing business

The Big Cannoli is a wholesome family-operation that serves up a taste of Italy
Nov. 23, 2022
Brian Capitao

Located in a sleepy commercial plaza, The Big Cannoli bakery and cafe is a family-run operation.

Drawing inspiration from an old Blue Jays player named Frank Thomas whose appellation was “The Big Hurt,” The Big Cannoli was chosen as a name for the bakery, says owner Val Cappelli who has been at the 28 Roytec Rd. location since 2007

The small hole in the wall cafeteria, pays tribute to the old country with black and white photos of Italy and a baby blue Vespa off to the side, just in front of the backroom.

While seemingly small, the shop is buzzing with the sound of people talking. Everyone seems to know each other already adding to the sense of familial jovialness.

However, like many working-class people, the Cappeli’s are trying to keep their head above water from inflation.

“We found that stuff has gone up like three times. So far, I haven’t raised any prices for my customers. I haven’t passed it on yet. Eventually, we are going to have to do that,” said the elder Cappelli.

Flour, sugar, dairy, and all the other normal staples have gone up, according to Val Cappelli. On top of that, supply chain issues made getting some ingredients a hassle.

“We do a lot of frying, and we couldn’t get any corn oil. It was all just vegetable and even that went up quite a bit,” said Val Cappelli.

Times have been tough. COVID took a massive chunk of the business says son Michael Cappelli.

Their business model was reliant on people getting together for big parties. That’s where the bulk of the revenue was coming from. It was something that the business barely survived after two years of banquets being closed.
Michael Cappelli chipped in by making burgers and sandwiches to help make a steady stream of revenue, as well as doing curbside orders.

Now, he’s hoping that things get back to normal as he plans on taking the reins after his father retires.

“My dad has been in the business since the 70s,” said the younger Cappelli.

“He comes in a couple days a week, so I can take a break and have a day off, at least. Pretty much, me and my brother do everything in the back here. I’ll do all the orders. All the cakes and everything. Baking for the other location as well because we make everything here and ship it there. My brother (Stefano) does all the production, making all the doughs and creams.”

Things are beginning to look up this year but rising costs could be a concern.

“The rent is still the same. Even the gas, the utilities, just keep going up, what am I going to do about that?” pondered the senior Cappelli.

“It’s definitely slowly getting back to normal,” said Michael Cappelli as he preps for the busy Christmas season.

Loyal customers seem to be returning after the downturn due to COVID. The place holds special significance for those missing a taste of Italy.

“A long, long time ago when I first came from Italy, I looked in and saw the big Cannoli sign. The cannoli was one of the only places that reminded me of Italy with the ricotta. The cannoli was really authentic, Italian cannoli,” said Francesco Di Francesca, a loyal customer at The Big Cannoli.

However, with inflation Di Francesca is changing his spending habits elsewhere.

“Well, you think twice whereas before if the bill was eight or nine dollars, you give a dollar back.” said Di Francesca. “You feel bad, but inflation went up, so you can’t leave as much of a tip.

“We make the same money every month. We’re not getting more money because inflation is going higher."