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'You can feel the excitement': Historic Italian Bakery reopens after arson

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Edmonton's Chinatown warmly welcomed back a sweet Italian staple Saturday.

Three years after it was destroyed by an arson, the Italian Bakery reopened in a new location on 97 Street and 106 Avenue.

The community came together to celebrate the bakery's return, kicking off the event with a traditional Chinese Lion Dance. It was a heartwarming moment for owner Renato Frattin.

"I'm beside myself," Frattin said. "This morning there were 100 people outside waiting to get in, and now there's been a flow and you can feel the excitement in the building – it's almost vibrating."

The Italian Bakery has been a Chinatown fixture since 1960 when Frattin's parents opened the store after moving to Edmonton from Italy.

In 2020, it closed after being heavily damaged by a fire that was intentionally set. Both Frattin's parents died before the family could rebuild.

"I wish they were here to see this," Frattin said, adding he chose to reopen in the same area in honour of his parents and what they started 60 years ago.

"My mum and dad, they really loved this neighbourhood and they really wanted to come back," Frattin said. "They've laid the foundation [and I] won't let it go away – this is our legacy."

Renato Frattin cuts a celebratory cake at the grand reopening of Italian Bakery on Saturday, three years after the Chinatown bakery burned down. (Evan Kenny/CTV News Edmonton)Christina Trang, co-chair of the Chinatown and Area Business Association, attended the opening. She said it's nice to see such a long-standing business come back to life in the community.

"We stick together and we get through hard times, and now we also share happy times," Trang said.

The bakery's return will help with ongoing efforts to restore vibrancy in the historic neighbourhood, she added.

"I think this is crucial for revitalization, having such a long history here in Chinatown," Trang said. "Who doesn't know Italian Bakery, right? And being a family business, it just means so much to the community."

Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson and Edmonton's Chief of Police, Dale McFee were also at the new storefront Saturday.

They both said it's a sign of the community's strength.

"It's probably the strongest sign of resilience we're seen in a long time," McFee said. "I think this is a real example of when we push through things, how we can get there."

"It would have been really easy for the owners to make a different choice after such a challenging event, such a heartbreaking event, but they chose to stay here," Stevenson said. "If we all believe in our neighbourhoods, stay committed to our neighbourhood, wonderful things happen."

The Italian Bakery will serve a new community and continue the Frattin family legacy with a new store in southwest Edmonton next summer. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Evan Kenny

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