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A passion for baking passed down from his mother has inspired an act of compassion from Louie Proto.
Accountant and financial planner by day, artisan baker in the pre-dawn morning, Proto has donated 100% of his bread sales since early April – almost $5,000 – to five organizations serving the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a way to give back to charities who do so much for our community, while also giving me an opportunity to do what I enjoy,” said Proto, a 1975 graduate of St. Bonaventure.
The Warming House, St. Bonaventure University’s student-run soup kitchen on North Union Street in Olean, will be the sixth beneficiary. All proceeds on orders placed through noon on Wednesday, June 3, will be donated to the Warming House.
“I can’t thank Louie enough for this act of kindness,” said Alice Miller Nation, director of SBU’s Franciscan Center for Social Concern. “It’s difficult to overstate how much these expressions of generosity and good will mean during this extraordinary time in all of our lives.”
During the pandemic, orders can only be placed online at https://www.luigispane.com/breads. The breads – 14 varieties in all – are prepared on Thursdays and baked on Fridays; customers are called when their orders are ready to be picked up. Proto often arrives at 5 a.m. on Fridays.
The breads are also available after 3 p.m. on Fridays at Jim’s Park & Shop at the corner of Front and Main streets in Olean, and at Dom’s Butcher Block in Ellicottville. Proto hopes to return soon to his regular spot on Saturdays at the Olean Farmers Market.
“My dad has always stressed to me the importance of supporting our community,” said his daughter, Eileen, who helps with sales and maintains the bakery’s website and Facebook page.
Last September, Proto finally acted on what he had been considering for years: opening a small bakery in the kitchen in the back of the Proto & Loskey accounting office, located in the old City Club at 115 Times Square in Olean.
Luigi’s Pane & Pasta was born.
Proto grew up in Olean in an Italian household, developing an appreciation for homemade food while watching and helping his mother, Rose, bake bread and other delicious meals. That appreciation turned into a passion after taking many trips to Italy and numerous baking courses.
So far, Proto’s bread sales have benefitted the United Way of Cattaraugus County, Olean Food Pantry, Genesis House of Olean, Olean General Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund.
All of the bakery’s breads are made with no preservatives. They are double bagged and gloves and masks are worn during preparation and handling.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2019, St. Bonaventure was named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.
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