When Passion Takes Over: The Story of Scala’s Pastry Shop

“You have to meet with my payment processing merchant Scala Pastry Shop,” exclaimed our merchant industry executive Joe Abbadessa. “He has some of the best Italian pastries I’ve ever had and he’s located about an hour from here, right in North Brunswick, NJ.”

Pastries. Enough said. I was sold.

Plus, I really love meeting with our payment processing merchants and getting to know the people who process payments with our fintech.

Joe set the meeting up and before I knew it I was headed down the Garden State Parkway to meet with Paulie Scala, owner of Scala Pastry Shop located at 1896 Rt. 130 in North Brunswick, NJ. 

I showed up on a Friday afternoon and from the moment I got out of my car I could smell something delicious baking. The aromas from Scala’s fine pastries and breads graced the front of the shopping center. I knew I was about to be on a sugar high with all the pastries I’d purchase for the weekend.

Having arrived about 15 minutes prior to our scheduled meeting, I waited in the parking lot and watched people go in and out of Scala’s. The Pastry Shop is an especially popular place among locals.

The clock turned to 2:30 and I headed in.

Paulie in his Italian Brooklyn accent welcomingly shouted, you’re with the credit card processing company?

“Yes, I replied. Priority Payment Systems Local. I’m here to learn more about your business. Joe sent me.”

Paulie and his wife Lois were just finishing up making a wedding cake and assured me they would be right out. Feeling a bit camera shy despite his outgoing personality, Paulie asked if Lois could be on video with him.

“Of course!” I exclaimed. I could sense the love he has for her and it was heartwarming.

I began asking Paulie questions about his business such as how he got started and what some of his best selling products are. 

The Passionate Baker

Growing up in Brooklyn more than 35 years ago, Paulie Scala never liked school and ended up dropping out of high school. 

He saw his father work in the family bakery and joined him between ages 12 and 24, carefully watching his father’s every move while learning his recipes. 

But his dad wanted him to get a college education instead of work in the bakery.

When school did not work for Paulie, dad Giuseppe suggested he work at a post office.

“I lasted one day. It was not for me,” he said. “I loved baking.”

When the post office did not work out he went to work for his brother-in-law Johnny selling produce on the street. When his wife got pregnant, he knew he needed to do something more. In order to bring in some extra money, he decided he would have a pastry stand over the weekends at the Long Island Flea Market.

“I’d work the produce during the week and sell pastries on the weekends but I needed an oven to bake the pastries in. My wife was worried about me working seven days a week, but it’s what I wanted to do, and I wanted to bake.”

One day when Paulie and Johnny had extra peaches leftover from their produce run and needed a place to store them, Paulie called up childhood friend Tony Argento who owned a few bakeries. 

“When I dropped off the peaches and asked him if he had a convection oven I could buy from him he asked me if I wanted to buy his bakery in New Brunswick. Tony had already owned a few bakeries with his brother and they were a lot for him.”

So just like that, Tony grabbed a coaster and they made an agreement that they had his housekeeper witness. 

“I gave him the money and he gave me the key that Friday. By Monday morning I was up and running. Of course, this agreement was not good enough for my attorney so we had to get it finalized but just like that, I owned a bakery,” he added.

Paulie went home that Friday and did not tell his wife. 

Paulie and Lois

“On Monday morning my brother-in-law Johnny came knocking on my door so we could go get the peaches and get to work. I told him I could not go … I had bought a bakery. He thought I was joking and asked my wife.”

“A bakery?!” Lois exclaimed.

“I forgot to tell you, I bought Argentos Bakery in NJ.”

She could not believe it and asked me to show her the key.

Paulie renamed the bakery Scala Pastry Shop and the rest is history. 

Over the years Paulie had a few different bakeries using the recipes he learned from his dad. At one point, Scala also had a bread service. His daughter Belle got into the business with her own cafe, Cafe Belle located at 280 Mulberry Street in NYC. Scala’s delicious pastries can be found at Cafe Belle today.

Scala Family, Bensonhurst 1969
Paulie and his daughter Belle

Scala’s Pastry Shop Circa 2020

Scala still uses many of his dad’s recipes but has added a few new recipes to modernize the menu. Just a few of the delicious foods you can find at Scala’s include the following.

Cookies

  • Italian butter cookies
  • The miniature pastries that Paulie’s father introduced him to in 1950s
  • Lobster tail cookies
  • Cannolis
  • Casadinas
  • American donuts 
  • American crumb cake
  • Vanilla biscuits 
  • Biscottis
  • Bowties
  • Napolitanas biscuits
  • Amaretto nut slices
  • Rainbow cookies
  • Lemon drops

Cakes

  • Custom wedding cakes
  • Rolled fondants cakes
  • Tiramisu
  • Strawberry shortcake
  • Red velvet cake
  • Carrot cake
  • Cannoli cake
  • Rum cake
  • German chocolate cake
  • Black and white cake

Bread

  • Twist 
  • Panella
  • Semolina
  • Baston
  • Rye
  • Prosciutto
  • Salt sticks
  • Kaiser rolls
  • Dinner rolls 
  • Whole wheat bread 
  • Artisan bread
  • Sun-dried tomato


Quick Bites

  • Rice balls
  • Stromboli 
  • And more

Scala’s Pastry Shop On-the-Go

Be on the lookout for Scala’s Pastry on Wheels, from their store to your door. The company’s new food truck is available for weddings, birthday parties, and other special events. In addition, look out for Scala at the Red Bank, NJ farmers market beginning this October and throughout Italian festivals across NYC and NJ. 

To place an order or book the Scala truck for your next event, Paulie says he likes to work with his customers directly and they can reach him on his cellphone at 732-718-4674.

Paulie with his mentors, dad Joe and uncles Nick and Pascali on the day he graduated baker school at age 18. Pascali learned how to bake at age 12 in Italy then came to America and taught his brothers.

Bakery Payment Processing in NJ

We have the honor and pleasure of providing Scala’s with payment processing services so that he and his team can accept credit cards and debit cards. But, Scala’s was not always keen on accepting credit cards. In this video interview we capture more of Paulie’s story and why he decided to go with our payment processing solution.

About five years after first accepting credit cards, Paulie switched over to our Net Zero Processing Fees Program. Due to Net Zero, he has been able to save around $1,200 per month on credit card processing fees.

So when you visit Scala’s, think of the passionate baker who never gave up. Even though his dad tried to keep him away from the bakery business, it’s what he loved then and loves now. Baking is in his blood! 

I also had the pleasure of trying several different Scala cookies along with a pepperoni stromboli. Being Italian myself and having a great grandfather who passed his delicious recipes down to my grandma, I’m always critical of Italian baking. To say my great grandfather would be proud is an understatement. Everything I tried was simply delicious and I highly recommend them!  

Thank you to Scala’s and Belle’s Cafe for providing most of the photos featured in this article and for letting us share your story!

Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa Sanfilippo is the Director of Marketing and Strategy for Priority Payments Systems Local, a payment processing company that is headquartered in Central, NJ. As part of her role, she educates merchants on the power of contactless payments, Net Zero Fee processing, and more.

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