Alessi Bakery 'staying in business,' owner says
TAMPA - Though its parent company has filed for protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and has more than $10 million in debts, it will be business as usual at the Alessi Bakery on Cypress Street, company chairman Phil Alessi Sr. said this afternoon. "We are staying in business," Alessi said. "Nothing will change. We are keeping all the same employees. You won't notice anything different." Alessi cited a familiar cause for the problems faced by the 100-year-old business – the slumping economy. The company, he said, expanded its business to a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in 2007, just as the economy crashed and the real estate market imploded.Making things worse, Alessi said, was that sales of its miniature pastries to supermarket chains including Publix fell as consumers began pinching pennies. As a result, the company ran up huge debts – nearly $6 million to Zions First National Bank, $3 million to the U.S. Small Business Association and $1 million to Southern Commerce Bank, according to court filings. In addition, the company owes scores of national and local suppliers. Alessi said the banks and suppliers are working with the company. The company, seeking to reorganize its debts, has filed for Chapter 11 protection under the name Phil's Cake Box Bakeries Inc. The company still runs the manufacturing plant at 5202 Eagle Trail Drive in Tampa, said Alessi. The plant is operating at 25 to 30 percent of capacity, he said. In addition to its pastries, Alessi said the company is introducing a new line of Spanish food. "We are starting to get some traction," he said. The company will hold a news conference at the plant at 9 a.m. Tuesday.