Stella D’oro, the sweets brand known to most New Yorkers and beyond, will close its factory in the Bronx later this year.
Last week, a federal judge ordered Stella D’oro to reinstate 134 workers after a protracted 10-month strike. This week, the company invited the workers back. It also announced that it would close the factory in October.
The decision to close Stella D’oro’s only factory, which is based in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, was made by Brynwood Partners, the private equity company based in Greenwich, CT, which bought the company in 2006. The closing appears to be the result of a labor dispute that has festered over the past couple years. Production will be moved elswhere, effectively striking back a lethal blow to the union and the factory’s current workers. The product line will not be disturbed.
Stella D’oro was founded in New York in 1932 by an Italian immigrant, Angela Kresevich, and her husband, Joseph, who came from Trieste, Italy, near the Slovenian border on the Adriatic Sea. The company was sold in 1992 to Nabisco and then to Kraft, before it was bought by Brynwood Partners. Stella D’Oro’s bakery is on West 237th Street at the north end of Kingsbridge, Bronx. Stella D’Oro always has a big following among Jews, because some of their desserts were made with no milk or butter, making them “Pareve” and acceptable at both meat and dairy meals. In fact, when Kraft took over, they removed the Pareve designation from Stella D’Oro’s baked products, and then saw sales drop. They put the insignias back.
The factory, which used to have a restaurant next door, once employed 575 people in New York and had sales of over $60 million in 1991. Not any more.
In the case of union workers vs. Brynwood Partners one could argue successfully that when you ask for too much, sometimes you get nothing.