How It All Began…
Sostine Castriciano was born and raised on the island of Sicily, in a small, mountainous town called Mili San Pietro; which is just outside of the bustling port of Messina. When he was 18 years old, he moved to Ontario, Canada to work for his cousin who owned a bakery.
Mena was born in the southern Italian city of Calabria, and came to Lansing, Michigan with her family when she was only 12 years old.
Sostine and Mena Castriciano met in Canada, at an Italian bakery, more than 47 years ago.
At the age of 16, Mena was invited by a cousin to travel to Ontario, Canada to meet this young man. Over the next few years they wrote letters, phoned each other, and Sostine made the occasional visit to Lansing for dates with Mena. Four years later they were married and settled in Lansing to begin their new life and family, Sostine was 22 and Mena was 20.
Mena’s father, Mario Baldino, took to Sostine immediately, thinking of him as if he were his own son. Together they shared a dream of owning their own store. Mario came across Antonio’s Italian Grocery on Erie St. in Lansing, and would loyally buy his groceries from this establishment. When Antonio decided to sell his store, Mario, Sostine and Mena felt that their dreams were coming true. They bought the small Italian grocery store and began bringing their love for Italian food and culture to Lansing. As the store’s popularity grew so did the dream.
In 1969, they decided to expand the grocery store into a bakery and call it “Roma Bakery” after the historical Italian capital of Rome. Quickly they outgrew their cozy store on Erie St. and purchased a larger lot one block south and built the store at 428 N Cedar St. The whole family came to work with Mena. Her father assisted Sostine with the baking. Other family members worked in the deli and bakery areas, as well as behind the scenes.
In 1971, Sostine and Mena welcomed the arrival of their first daughter, AnneMarie. Seven years later their daughter, Elisabeth was born. The baby of the family, Filomena (affectionately nick named “little Mena”), arrived 4 years after that. The Castriciano children grew up helping at the bakery; witnessing their parent’s strong work ethic and adherence to Italian tradition and culture.
Throughout the years, Roma has become well known in Lansing for their authentic European style breads, rum cake torte, cannoli, almond paste cookies and many more delectable favorites.
It is this unique journey and love for family and heritage that Sostine and Mena continue to share their passion for the art of Italian foods with Lansing for 42 years and counting. Together Sostine and Mena invite you to browse this website and stop in to taste and see the fruit of their labor of love, Roma Bakery and Deli.