Friday, March 22, 2013

Fiorello Dolce, Huntington's Haunted Bakery

There's more than delicious pastries and cakes at this popular Long Island P√Ętisserie. 

If you're looking for the most amazing French and Italian cakes, cookies and pastries, Fiorello Dolce is by far, the place to go. Owner and pastry chef Gerard Fioravanti, a New York City, French Culinary graduate, opened Fiorello Dolce's in 2006. Every single one of this talented pastry chef's creations looks like it belongs on the cover of Bon Appetite magazine. Oh, and did I mention he makes homemade gelato and breads and croissants too? 

Needless to say, I am a big fan of his flourless chocolate cake, so over the years I've been in there numerous times for this decadent delight amongst other things. I knew Gerard by face, and we never really had a conversation until this past July when I called him with an odd request. I needed to bring a videographer into his bakery to film his cannolis. 
 
"You want to film my cannoli's?" Gerard asked.  

I knew it was a strange request, but I was filming my book trailer for my novel The Medal which was due to come out in September. My main character is a pastry chef who meets an Italian, cannoli-eating angel, so needless to say I wanted cannoli's featured in the video. I thought of Fiorello Dolce's immediately. 

Gerard was kind enough to let us come in and film, and I was delighted when I got to take the delicious cannolis home. While we were in the kitchen talking, out of nowhere Gerard mentioned that the bakery has a ghost. He was shocked when I brought up the fact that I'm also a ghost investigator and the author of two books on Long Island's history and ghost stories. What were the chances? 

Well, one thing lead to another, and since then Gerard and I have been speaking about the activity that has been occurring at his bakery. I asked him if he'd like paranormal investigator and medium Joe Giaquinto and I to come and do a ghost investigation there, and he agreed. So a week ago Joe and I headed over there to check things out.  

We started out with the history first. Fiorello Dolce is located off Wall Street in a tiny strip of stores within walking distance to the movie theater. During the 1900's, the area where Fiorello Dolce now sits, was a group of ramshackle row houses that apparently housed town workers. The area was said to have been one of the poorest areas in Huntington. Wetlands surrounded the houses, and later when they were demolished, fill was brought in so the stores and parking lot could be built. This was in 1974. The little strip has seen a variety of restaurants, bakeries and an Italian pork store over the years. Gerard's store is located at the far end, and is sleek and beautifully decorated.  

For reasons unknown, the ghostly phenomena at Fiorello Dolce only started to occur about three years ago. It began when Gerard was alone in the bakery and he was coming out of a walk-in refrigerator. As clear as day, he heard the voice of woman call out his name in a shriek. At first he thought that maybe it was the squeaky wheels on the cart he was pulling out, but he pulled it out it again and no voice was heard. He had been thinking about his deceased aunt recently and wondered if it could be her. It was weird, but Gerard said it wasn't scary.  

Around the same time a new employee started working for him who had some psychic abilities. Without Gerard ever mentioning the incident to him, the employee told him almost immediately that there were ghosts there. He admitted that his grandmother often followed him around, but he said there were others. 

Gerard's partner Steve didn't give much credence to any of this until he had his own experience of buckets falling down off the shelves in front of him for no apparent reason. Then, one morning at 6 AM while Gerard was rotating pans in the oven, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a wispy, white figure zoom by. He was in utter disbelief.  

All kinds of occurrences have followed. Metal spatulas hang from a magnetic knife rack in the kitchen. Gerard and other employees have witnessed one of the handles of the spatulas vibrate and move for no reason at all. A high school worker witnessed "S" hooks come off the racks by themselves, and cardboard cake bottoms fall out of boxes up on the shelves. This past fall a parchment paper sheet looked as if someone was pulling it off the rack. Meg, one of Gerard's pastry chefs along with another two employees, saw a rolling rack move a foot on its own. Gerard heard the shriek of his name being called again, and just two weeks ago, another pastry chef went inside the walk-in refrigerator and thought someone was behind her. She then heard a loud clap and turned around abruptly thinking it was Gerard playing a trick on her. No one was around.  

Gerard went as far as hanging medicinal sage to see if that would rid the place of the spirits. The next morning after he hung it, he found the sage lying on the floor.  

"It's not anything scary," Gerard said, "It's just that they're here." 

When Joe and I were at Fiorello Dolce we took a look at Gerard's surveillance camera. Gerard had noticed something really strange on it, a fleeting white ball of light. After examining it, we realized he captured an orb in motion. It flew from the front to the back, and then two other orbs appeared on the floor and whizzed by. Gerard has tons of surveillance footage. Never once has he ever captured anything like this.  

I used an electromagnetic field indicator, commonly known as a ghost meter, throughout the shop. The only time it registered was when we were near the area with the spatulas in the kitchen. We ruled out any other electrical devices that could be triggering it. The needle was off the chart! Joe then went around the kitchen with a set of dowsing rods. Again, there was no activity until he got to the area of the spatulas. The rods crossed at the same spot that the ghost meter had went off. Something was definitely there.  

Next I went around taking photographs. I captured orbs in both the bakery and in the kitchen, and a whole bunch outside and above the bakery. Joe used his recorder in a question/answer session hoping to get some EVP's, (Electronic Voice Phenomena) but the few voices recorded were too hard to hear over the white noise of the refrigerators and compressor. We experienced several cold spots in various areas throughout the night, and Joe was picking up information psychically.  

"I'm getting the image of a large African American fellow," said Joe. "I'm seeing a knife fight. Someone was killed in the back." Joe also kept getting the name Eddie. 

We walked to the back of the kitchen where a door lead to a creepy alleyway. The energy was totally different back there compared to the energy in the kitchen and bakery. It was heavy and negative, almost foreboding. Joe picked up a strange scent like some kind of sulfuric drug. None of us smelled it, only Joe. 

The next day we received a call from Gerard's friend Mark, who happens to be really good friends with someone who knew the area very well, and whose family has lived in Huntington for over 150 years. They consider themselves local historians. When Mark asked his friend if he knew of any incident that ever took place in the area of the bakery, his friend replied that there was a man who had been murdered there about thirty years ago. He said a big black man had been stabbed over a drug related incident. His name just happened to be Eddie.  

The phenomena continues. In fact, the day after we were there, Gerard told me that the door chimes kept going off even when no one was opening the door. Whatever spirits are at Fiorello Dolce, they are friendly and harmless. Why they continue to hang around, no one knows. Perhaps they're a fan of Gerard's chocolate flourless cake and cannolis.