Randazzo family has storied tradition in king cake business

More than one reader has asked: “Why are there so many Randazzo bakeries?” Good question. The large family of popular bakery owners has deep roots in St. Bernard Parish. Here’s a timeline with all the players.

randazzos-camellia-city.jpgTricia Randazzo-Zornes and husband Louis open Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery in Slidell in October 1997.

1965: After Hurricane Betsy, Randazzo’s Hi-Lan Bakery, operated by Sam Randazzo and his sons Lawrence, Manuel and Anthony, opens in Violet in what had been the family’s Camellia Club restaurant and bar, started in the early 1950s. The old dance hall becomes the bakery.

1971: Randazzo’s Hi-Lan Bakery opens another location at 613 W. Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette. The two locations operate simultaneously for a few years.

1974: Manuel Randazzo decides to branch out on his own and converts the two-car garage at his Meraux home to open the Randazzo and Zornes Bakery with son-in-law Louis Zornes (husband of Manuel’s daughter, Tricia Randazzo-Zornes), who trained at the Hi-Lan Bakery. After a few months the space is deemed too small for the volume of business. Manuel returns to the family bakery. Zornes leaves the bakery business.

1988: Sam Randazzo dies. The bakery is operated by his sons and their children.

1992: Manuel “Manny” Randazzo Jr., son of Manuel, opens his own full-service bakery in Metairie, Randazzo’s Fine Cakes and Pastries. The family bakery makes headlines when one of Manny’s uncles files a lawsuit challenging his use of the family name and the king cake recipe developed at the Chalmette bakery, while also alleging that his brothers are trying to push him out of the business. The lawsuit is later dropped.

1993: Joel Randazzo Forjet, daughter of Lawrence Randazzo, starts her own business, Randazzo’s King Cake Express, which handles shipping for Hi-Lan Bakery.

1994: Mickey Randazzo, wife of Manuel Randazzo Sr., dies. Tricia Randazzo-Zornes leaves the court-reporting profession and takes over her mother’s work at the Hi-Lan bakery.

1994: Three of Lawrence Randazzo’s children — Sal Randazzo, Petrina Randazzo and Joel Randazzo Forjet — open Goodchildren Bakery Shoppe in Meraux, named after its location on Goodchildren Street, later renamed Judge Perez Drive.

1995: Manny Randazzo Jr. goes to seasonal king-cake-only business, open to the public during Carnival season.

1996: Manuel Randazzo Sr. retires from baking.

1996: Randazzo’s Hi-Lan Bakery in Chalmette closes, but reopens for 1997 Carnival season. Doors never reopen after Lundi Gras.

Oct. 1997: Tricia Randazzo-Zornes and husband Louis open Randazzo’s Camellia City Bakery in Slidell.

March 3, 1998: Lawrence J. Randazzo dies at age 72.

March 30, 2005: Anthony J. Randazzo dies at age 81, leaving no children.

nonna_randazzo.jpgJoel and Felix Randazzo are pictured with children Lauren and Felix III at Nonna Randazzo's Bakery near Covington.

August 29, 2005: Katrina and flooding destroy both the Goodchildren Bakery in Meraux and Randazzo’s Camellia City Bakery in Slidell, along with the homes of the owners and employees.

Late 2005: Randazzo’s Camellia City Bakery reopens in Slidell as a seasonal king cake business open to the public only during Carnival season.

2006: Joel Randazzo Forjet and her husband, Felix, who started working at the Hi-Lan Bakery while in high school, open Nonna’s Italian Bakery and Caffe as a full-service bakery in Covington.

2008: Dianne Randazzo, ex-wife of Manny Jr., opens Dianne Randazzo LLC bakery in Elmwood. Manny Jr. files a lawsuit; a judge rules that the recipe, which came from Dianne’s new business partner, cannot be called a Randazzo’s king cake.

2011: Nonna Randazzo’s opens a second location in Chalmette, run by Kayla and Felix Forjet III, son of Felix and Joel Randazzo Forjet, once again giving St. Bernard Parish a bakery with the Randazzo name.