(SanRemo Bakery and Café Inc/Facebook - image credit)
Natale Bozzo, founder of SanRemo Bakery, has died at the age of 75 after contracting COVID-19, his family said on Thursday.
"He was larger than life and we will miss him dearly and will work very hard to keep his memory alive and to honour him," reads a statement posted to Facebook by his family on Thursday evening.
Within just an hour of being posted, the statement had already garnered some 800 comments of condolences.
"This will no doubt be an inexplicable time of grieving for our family."
Bozzo came to Canada at the age of 15 from Italy and began working at a bakery in Little Italy.
He opened SanRemo Bakery, located in Etobicoke, in 1969 with his brothers, becoming not only an "incredible baker" but "a friend to many" in the community, the statement said.
Natale Bozzo moved to Toronto from Italy at the age of 15 and started working at a bakery in Little Italy. Eventually he opened SanRemo Bakery in 1969 with his brothers.
Bozzo become the sole owner of the bakery in the 1990s and worked there with his three sons, according to his family.
He said the secret of baking was to put a pinch of love into everything, and we'll be missing that pinch in ways we can't describe. - Bozzo family
He eventually retired "but he would still come to help out around the bakery as it was his passion," the post said.
"He was an incredible baker, and most hardworking man we know. He was resilient and resourceful. He was kind and a friend to all. He loved to go to Florida, he loved to fish and garden, he loved food, and he loved his family."
WATCH | Community remembers beloved bakery founder Natale Bozzo:
Bozzo had COVID-19 for 6 weeks, family says
Bozzo's family said he lost his "devastating battle with COVID-19" after six weeks in hospital.
"This will no doubt be an inexplicable time of grieving for our family," the family wrote, adding that they learned of his failing health through "very difficult" phone calls from the hospital.
"Thankfully we were able to say goodbye."
Natale Bozzo leaves behind his wife of 49 years, Nicoletta, along with his three sons and five grandchildren.
The post goes on to say that the family thanks everyone for their support at this time.
"He said the secret of baking was to put a pinch of love into everything, and we'll be missing that pinch in ways we can't describe," the post reads.
Coun. Mark Grimes, who represents Ward 3, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, took to Twitter on Thursday evening, remembering Bozzo as "a great man with an incredible story, who alongside his wife Nicoletta raised an amazing family."
"You may know Natale from San Remo Bakery, but there was much more behind the man who opened one of our community's greatest treasures," the tweet reads.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also shared a message of condolence on Twitter, saying Bozzo was a "true local champion who followed his passions."
"My condolences go out to Rob, Nick, Ed, & the entire family of Natale Bozzo," he wrote.