Ocala bakery thrives after multiple disasters

Magnolia Bakery bounces back, rebuild after fire, hurricane, accident

OCALA, Fla. - For decades they have baked and served the community, but it hasn't been easy.

A fire burned down Magnolia Bakery in Ocala in 1987 and since then it's been one obstacle after another for owners Sal and Linda Castello.

"It was devastating because we were sitting on top of the world," said Linda Castello, talking about the fire that destroyed everything but the oven.

When Linda and her husband took over Magnolia Bakery in the 70s, business was booming.

They had 50 employees and a fleet of trucks with routes in ten cities across the state -- people couldn't get enough of their old fashioned Italian bread.

"When you touch the bread, it bounces back. That's how you know it's fresh," she said.

The Castello's rebuilt, then in 2004, the hurricanes had the couple starting over again.

"We got hit, and then we got hit again," Linda said.

Perhaps the biggest blow to their bread came in 2008, when owner Sal, the genius behind the recipe, got into a car accident and lost feeling in his arms.

"He couldn't work, he couldn't do anything," said Linda.

The Castello's took a break after that and rented out the bakery until a few years ago, when they decided to bounce back.

"The bigger you are, the harder you fall and the smaller you are, the happier you are," she said.

The Castello's, grandpa Michelle, and a few part-timers run the bakery now, and Lisa delivers the bread herself. She said she wouldn't have it any other way.

"There's got to be angels flying over this building all the time, and you have to learn, just not to give up. You have to have hope," Lisa said.

For the first time in years, the Castello's purchased an ad in a local coupon book letting the community know the bakery is open for business.

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