The smell of fresh baked sweets fills the air inside LoCicero's Bakery, where trays of chocolate chip cookies, sprinkled butter cookies, donuts, danishes, apple pockets and cakes are ready to be gobbled up by indulgent customers.
Owner Chris LoCicero leans against the counter on a Wednesday evening after a long day of baking, slightly exhausted but extremely pleased with the amount of new customers he has welcomed since he opened a month ago.
"I opened up in June, and usually in June and July it's dead," he said. "It's been good. Better than I expected."
The new bakery replaced Eat Cake, which recently left it's storefront in the Colonial Shops at the intersection of Broad Street and Main Street.
LoCicero didn't grow up dreaming of becoming a baker, but rather fell into the craft during his teenage years. Growing up in Brooklyn, he left high school around 1985 and got a job working at his brother-in-law's bakery.
He picked the skill up quickly, learning all the little tricks and recipes of a good baker.
"It's not very hard to learn once you start baking. It became natural for me," he said.
In 2001, LoCicero decided to take the risk and open his own bakery in Brooklyn. However, about a week after he bought it, disastor struck.
"I purchased it eight days before Sept. 11," he said. "I just gave it back and he resold it."
Even so, LoCicero never gave up the hope of running his own bakery. He moved to Old Bridge and started working at on Main Street in Matawan where he often baked cakes. When decided to leave Matawan, LoCicero saw his opening.
"It was time for a change," said LoCicero, who worked at Abbate for nearly twelve years.
"Having my own bakery, it's both fun and exhausting. I enjoy it," he said, noting that he especially enjoys trying new recipes now that he is on his own.
"I like the freedom to do whatever I want as far as baking," LoCicero said.
As a finishing touch to his bakery, LoCicero also sells coffee to make it a more appealing stop during the morning commute.
LoCicero's is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. The bakery is closed on Monday.
Have you visited LoCicero's? What did you order?