by Isabel Contreras
Photo by Carina Lee
Boston said its final goodbye to one of the North End’s crown jewels this weekend when Maria’s Pastry closed its doors on Sunday.
Its owner, Maria Merola, decided it was time to retire, after managing the beloved pastry shop for 37 years.
“I’ve been working for so many years, seven days a week, so many hours,” she said. “That’s enough.”
Merola will start her retirement by traveling to her hometown in Naples next month. It’s been more than five years since her last visit.
Merola moved to Boston when she was 15 years old, on September 11, 1968. She got a job at the bakery two years later under the management of Modern Pastry. 12 years later, she bought the locale and opened Maria’s Pastry.
Although Merola considered passing on her business to her employees, she said they agreed it would be best for the cafe to close when she retired.
“They said to me, ‘I could never do what you’re doing, so don’t come to me to take over your business,’” she said. “‘Because I could never do the work mentally, physically and everything else.’”
Even though Merola looked ready to head on back to her home town now, she postponed her official retirement until the end of the month after receiving a torrent of pastry orders from her most faithful customers.
“Everybody wants the stuff, and I couldn’t handle it. They really want it,” she said. “So I postponed, but after that, it’s cut off.”
Many Boston locals will miss the delicious cannoli and lobster tails served at Maria’s Pastry, but regulars know it was Merola’s electric personality that gave the locale its spirit.
She was always in the bakery, sprinting around the kitchen or getting to know her customers while talking energetically with a wide smile.
“I never wanted to work in an office, behind a computer and that’s it,” she said. “That’s not me. I’m a yuppity yuppity yuppity!”