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Breadmen's turns 40

Breadmen's owners Roy Piscatello and Bill Piscatello sit with Omar Castro, who will take over as the new manager of the restaurant.
Breadmen's owners Roy Piscatello and Bill Piscatello sit with Omar Castro, who will take over as the new manager of the restaurant.

“I’m not big on self-promotion,” Piscitello said.

Breadmen’s has been a local favorite since it opened its doors in October 1974, known for its served-all-day breakfast and native flair. But when asked if he will celebrate the restaurant’s notable anniversary, Piscitello responded, “Probably not.”

His humble nature might be part of what’s driven his success throughout the decades. His favorite part of the restaurant business is meeting new people — an opportunity that Piscitello seizes seven days a week at Breadmen’s.

A northern New Jersey native, he graduated from UNC in 1970. For Piscitello, though, that was just the beginning.

“I wanted to stay in Chapel Hill,” Piscitello said, because he loves the town’s intimate and insulated community feel. Now, he wants to see it grow.

Piscitello owns the restaurant with his brother, Bill Piscitello , but he is also part-owner of Shortbread Lofts a downtown apartment complex that opened in August 2014. Shortbread Lofts is located across the street from Breadmen’s Restaurant.

“Chapel Hill’s got to have people living downtown,” Piscitello said of his recent developmental ventures. “Downtown needs to have new urbanism.”

Shortbread Lofts joined Lux at Central Park as the two luxury apartment complexes that opened in Chapel Hill in August.

Piscitello and local developer Larry Short  linked up to generate ideas for Shortbread Lofts about six or seven years ago.

“I was lucky to have a partner that had done it before,” Piscitello said of the help he received from Short, who co-owns Shortbread.

Short agreed Chapel Hill needs to see more development downtown. And at Shortbread Lofts, UNC plays a significant role in that growth, Short said.

“We live for the student population,” Short said.

As much as Piscitello enjoys working at Breadmen’s, the mounting physical toll it takes to be on his feet all day, every day is becoming increasingly difficult to undertake.

He is gradually cutting back on his working hours at Breadmen’s and passing the restaurant on to Omar Castro , who has been literally working his way up the food chain at Breadmen’s since 2008.

“I started working part-time Sunday mornings in the kitchen,” Castro said in an email. “A few months later, I had the opportunity to move to the front, running the register, where I got to meet many of the regular customers.”

Working at Breadmen’s is something of a family tradition for Castro, as his brother, father and grandfather have also worked with Piscitello.

“The plan is to just keep serving good food and to keep the Breadmen’s tradition going for as long as we can,” Castro said. “I’m just dedicating all my time to Breadmen’s.”

As for Piscitello and Short, they may have more downtown development in the works.

“We are discussing that option,” Short said.

In fact, Short owns a piece of property adjacent to Piscitello’s lot, the lot on which Breadmen’s is currently located — a prime piece of land for future development.

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Castro said he is aware of the possibility that Breadmen’s may not be located at the same place 40 years from now.

“At some point we will have to relocate,” Castro said. “For potential development of the property.”

As of now, however, the future location of Breadmen’s is unknown, Castro said. But if one thing is certain, the heart of Breadmen’s will carry on, Castro said.

“Breadmen’s is more than just a restaurant,” he said. “It has become a tradition in Chapel Hill.”