Nancy Fallica was the matriarch of a very sweet family. Along with her two daughters, Rose Fuger and Monica Tarantino, Nancy owned and operated A Taste of Home Bakery in North Bellmore, a staple in the community for more than eight years, and a gathering place for local residents and business owners to meet over a cup of coffee and a just-baked piece of cake or Danish.
Rose makes all of their baked goods in-house, including the usual confections and added homemade gelato, chocolate, candies…whatever they needed to do to stay competitive. They serve breakfast and lunch. They have a deli in the store. They open early and close late. They work hard all year round, but especially during the holiday season, traditionally their busiest time of the year. They recently re-launched their website, www.ATasteofHomeBakery.com, and are now getting orders from around the country and have garnered some large corporate clients in addition to their strong base of local business. They had a lot of holiday orders to fill this year. Things were looking up.
Nancy had been ill for the past several weeks and tired easily but still insisted on helping her daughters at the bakery. Her illness progressed and Nancy had to be hospitalized, but even then she was asking Monica to bring bakery boxes to her hospital room to put together, to keep her hands busy. Nancy knew that mid-December was crunch time in their line of business and wanted to help. Sadly, on Thursday, December 16, Nancy passed away.
Devastated by their mother’s passing, Rose and Monica went to the one place where they felt comfort with Nancy’s presence: their bakery. “Mom was a fixture from the day we opened,” Monica says. “She just loved people.”
Says Nancy’s son, Raymond: “People thought of my mother as an old friend. They were deeply upset.”
The family was greeted by their many friends who wanted to pay their respects. And then, everyone stayed to help the sisters get their holiday orders out. “About 25 people chipped in,” Monica says. Raymond adds, “My sisters needed help and people came out of nowhere, all because of the positive effect my mother had.”
Everyone came together to make sure that every order was delivered, helpers included teenagers, employees who came in off the clock, local PTA members, friends, relatives and many local business owners including Kim from Oberle’s—the florist across the street from A Taste of Home—and many members of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce, of which Rose is President.
Susan Tasker, from local radio station B103, went to pay her respects to the grieving family and stayed to pitch in during the weekend. “I kept going back,” Susan says. “It was very community. It’s what people should do when something like this happens. Everyone was packing and wrapping trays, it was non-stop.”
Donna Cariello, a former manager at Fed Ex and now the founder of The Long Island Way, spent the weekend coordinating the shipment of hundreds of holiday baskets and cookie trays. “It was an amazing experience to see the community come together to support the family due to the loss of their cherished mother who was a mom to all,” says Donna. “The Taste of Home family has continually nourished the community, and supported Long Island businesses and non-profits for years. Nancy’s presence at the bakery will be missed and remembered. Her wishes were for all of us to give love and value our time together.”
Paul Telese, owner of Elisa’s Restaurant in East Meadow, sent over a hot meal for all of Santa’s helpers. Sue said that other restaurants began sending over food to help feed the masses. Sue took over the task of coordinating deliveries with the many restaurants who wanted to do something to help Rose and Monica, so that they weren’t all sending over food at the same time.
Besides packing up mail orders, there were four Breakfast With Santa bookings that were reserved. Dozens of children were looking forward to the event, which coincidently was at the same time as Nancy’s wake. Volunteers called the people who had reservations and combined four seatings into two. New Santas and servers had to be found due to the time change. Andy and Lynda Calimano of Starfish Junction, a local event-production company, had been at the bakery, helping out. Lynda was wrapping and Andy was delivering packages. When they found out they needed a Santa, Lynda called her father, Chris Danker, who volunteered to suit up. They were one waitress short, so Sandra Johnson CPA of Bellmore and President of the LI Center for Business and Professional Women, donned an apron and served breakfast. “People just rallied around us,” Monica says. “They told me not to worry, that they’d come through for us, and they did.”
Says Lynda: “Everybody who came through the door had a story about Nancy and every single person asked what they could do to help.”
Janine Kelly, a local chiropractor, says, “There were elves everywhere, even the ones you couldn’t see. I always tell Rose, ‘You know who your friends are,’ and they all rallied when Nancy passed.”
Rose and Monica will carry on Nancy’s legacy. “Mom had lots of jobs, but she was always our ambassador of goodwill,” Monica says. “Her first question was always, how are your children and how are you? She would break perfectly good cookies and then give them out. You never left empty handed. Everybody left with something. She was old-school.”
“I have another crew coming tonight, we are going to do our best,” Monica vows, but after a long breath says, “Yesterday was hard. I had to count the money.”
That was always Nancy’s job.
A Taste of Home Bakery, 1992 North Jerusalem Road, North Bellmore, NY, 516-486-1670