‘Leave the gun; take the cannoli.” It’s one of the classic movie lines of all time (on the very off chance you don’t recognize it, the line is uttered by a murderous gangster with his priorities in order in “The Godfather”).
And it inspired the name of Pamela Panian’s bakery, cannoli Corleone (on the very off chance you don’t recognize it, either, Corleone was the mob family name in the same film).
Panian returned to her Riverbank hometown a few years ago after working as a nanny in Southern California for 16 years. Clients, she said, included Hugh Hefner and Sugar Ray Leonard.
“My biological clock was ticking,” she said. She got engaged and gave birth to a son, who is now 6. She worked for a couple of bakeries before deciding last winter to branch out on her own.
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“I’ve always loved baking,” she said. And, apparently, it’s in her blood – she learned after starting work that her grandfather’s dad was a baker. When she worked for other bakeries, one of the tasks she handled was going to farmers markets.
“I fell in love with the farmers market scene,” said Panian, now 37. “It’s great, and I can take my son with me.”
She decided to specialize in cannoli after hearing people say they couldn’t find a good version of the Italian cheese-stuffed pastry in the area. She attended a show last November and they were an immediate hit.
“I knew I was doing something right,” she said. Now she frequents farmers markets in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and Bay Area, and can be found at festivals and benefits. She also takes special orders, charging $3 for large and $2 for small cannolis with a dozen minimum and free delivery.
A look at Panian’s Facebook page confirms her success: Several commenters call her cannoli the best they have ever had, with one comparing them to “heaven” and another saying she got in trouble with her husband for not saving him one.
Though cannoli are the specialty of the house, Panian occasionally makes coconut macaroons, as well.
“I love it a lot,” she said. Panian is getting ready to launch a fundraising campaign on the Kickstarter website so she can expand her business.
“I see myself in a food truck,” she said. She would like to expand further into the Bay Area, as well as maintain her local customer base.
“I love what I’m doing,” she said. “I just know I’m in the right place at the right time.”
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
Two Modesto boutiques are joining forces and moving in together. Unique Boutiques and Ritzy Ragz & Things will celebrate their joint grand opening in north Modesto with a party from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday.
The stores will operate at 4459 Spyres Way, off Bangs and McHenry avenues.
The merger, the stores said in a news release, will provide shoppers the benefits of both stores under one roof. Unique Boutiques offers vintage, antique and repurposed furniture, as well as home décor, gifts and jewelry from nearly three dozen vendors. It also rents vintage pieces for weddings and other events. Ritzy Ragz specializes in “recycled” designer clothing, shoes and accessories. In addition to the Modesto store, Ritzy Ragz operates shops in Turlock and Carmel, as well as an online store.