OLEAN — For 31 years the Anzivine family has been providing delicious baked goods to thousands of hungry people across the country. Now, that torch is being passed to a new generation.
On May 26, the Anzivines completed the sale of Swatt Baking Company to Carl and Andrea Hollamby after a six-month process. Although they hadn’t planned on selling the business right away, Lynn Anzivine said it was a sign from God that the time was right.
“We had talked about it, but never actually sat down and said we want to do that this year,” she explained. “It was something always in the works, we knew eventually we were going to sell it.”
Brothers Lee and Lenny Anzivine purchased the business from the Bazo brothers on Feb. 1, 1990. Lee and Lenny soon grew the business and brought on their now famous L.A. Cinnamon Bread and salt rising bread.
“We’ve been very blessed that living in a small town you make a lot of connections and your customers become your family,” said Lynn, Lee’s wife. “Some things that have stayed true to our core values is always having faith, our customers come first and we want to always deliver a good product.”
The brothers first welcomed their older sister Laurie into the business after a couple years, and the trio began adding gourmet pastries to their line. When Laurie left the business to move out of the area, Lynn and Kay Anzivine, Lenny’s wife, joined the team, making it a truly family-owned entity. In the decades that followed, all the Anzivine children learned about hard work, not only by watching their parents but working alongside them, Lynn said.
“You can talk amongst each other, bounce ideas off of each other,” she said. “If you’re in a pinch, you know one of your family members is going to show up to help get the work done.”
Lynn said the biggest changes to the business have been in technology advancements, noting they originally had to keep all the records by hand in ledger books because they didn’t have computers.
“You couldn’t run a business like that today, obviously,” she said. “You change with the times. Everything is driven by social media, the way you market, the way you advertise, all of that.”
A fire destroyed the business’s previous location in 2001, and two close family members died within that same year, Lynn said. But the brothers continued to persevere with their faith and work ethic to build a new facility at its current location on Homer Street.
“We could have hung it up and said forget this, but we didn’t,” she added. “My husband and brother-in-law just dug their heels in, and other community members helped and those who had gone through a similar situation were there for support.”
Sadly, older sister Laurie passed away from breast cancer in 2007. Five years later, the Anzivines started the Pink Pumpkin Project in her memory. Fundraising activities are held each year in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, observed in October.
“The main thing is we always relied on our faith,” Lynn said of the family’s struggles. “We never questioned anything. We knew God had a plan.”
Although 2020 was another difficult time amid the global pandemic and changing world, the business adapted and remained strong. Their patience was rewarded in early 2021 when the Anzivines were approached by Carl Hollamby Jr. about purchasing the business.
“We’re very happy that it’s Carl and his wife that we’re passing the reins to,” Lynn said. “They’re very family oriented, know a lot about business, they have a good work ethic and a great rapport with customers.”
Hollamby has owned Pete-Za-Ria Pizza in Portville since June of 2014. With Carl having many years of experience in the food industry, starting at 14 and even buying his first pizza place at 20, Andrea Hollamby said her husband has the savvy needed to keep the bakery running successfully.
“Our work crew is family, literally and figuratively,” she said. “Carl’s two decades of dedication in coaching multiple high-school sports affirms his philosophy of teamwork, inclusion and belief in investment in individual’s growth while focused on success.”
Andrea, a local entrepreneur who is working on degrees in strategic leadership and culinary arts, said they plan to consolidate both businesses at the Homer Street location and continue to increase their exposure and prominence online and in sales.
“We are so very pleased to be handed the reins for yet another cherished local business to continue its fine standards in providing fresh, delicious Swatt’s baking products,” she added.
Lynn said the Anzivines know the Hollambys have the experience already to keep the business going strong, but they continue to be available to help with the transition in the weeks since the sale. However, she said her husband and brother-in-law are ready to do something new.
“They’ve been in the baking business for 32 years, so they have a great opportunity now,” she said. “They’ll relax for a while and see what God has in store for them.”
Looking back, Lynn said the Anzivines have been blessed to have lived and worked in this community and been able to sell the L.A. Cinnamon bread in over a dozen U.S. states, including at Disney World in Florida.
“We’ve maintained long friendships with our customers and grown up in a really nice area,” she added.
Swat Baking Company is located at 222 Homer St. For more information, call (716) 372-9480 or visit lacinnamonbread.com.