Milford: Veteran gets sweet surprise at Scratch Baking


MILFORD >> Vietnam War veteran John Antignano got a sweet surprise on Veterans Day when he walked into Scratch Baking and learned a regular customer there was donating baked goods for life to him as a recognition for his service.

“Oh, my goodness,” Antignano said Friday. “I can’t believe it, this makes me feel good.”

Antignano, 73, of New Haven, who indulges at the popular bakery a few times a week, met the Trumbull family who will pay his bill forever, including the pies and pastries he brings to his niece’s house in Long Island, N.Y., over the holiday.

The donor, Joseph Scaretta of Trumbull, co-founder and chief development officer of FrontStreet Facility Solutions, an indoor renovation company of Bohemia, N.Y., said he hopes his small gesture will spark others to do the same in whatever way they can.

Scaretta, whose grandfather was a World War II veteran, said he has a special place in his heart for veterans and that footing a bakery bill “is a small price to pay compared to the sacrifices” Antignano made.

“I think it’s one big ecosystem of giving back, and people don’t do it enough,” he said. “We hope to start a movement. All it takes is one person to give back something small. It doesn’t have to be big.”

Scratch Baking owner Lesli Flick said Scaretta, a regular at the bakery, is one of the “most patient, happy, calm” people she’s ever met.

“It’s so nice to see someone giving from the heart. It’s just nice to see human kindness, especially these days,” Flick said.

Antignano is a retired state maintenance worker who got to know the bakery because his last assignment was cleaning and repairing things at state Superior Court, near Scratch Baking at 58 River St. He visits the area often, including for visits to a chiropractor.

Scaretta was turned on to Scratch after someone brought a batch of baked goods to a business meeting, and his family now travels from Trumbull for food, his favorites being cinnamon scones and coffee.

Scaretta’s “thank-you” through bakery products idea began this year when he was in the bakery one day and a veteran ordered a breakfast sandwich. He paid for the breakfast and when the veteran left, told Scratch manager Alex Malaspinas to run a forever tab when the vet came in for breakfast.

Malaspinas said the customer was deeply touched, but after a few months said he felt “embarrassed” to keep taking because he has the means to buy his sandwich.

When Malaspinas told Scaretta, he asked if there was another veteran he could help. Malaspinas told him about Antignano who served in the Marine Corps in 1965 and 1966.

They all thought Veterans Day would be an appropriate time to start. Malaspinas said the bakery now is looking to start a program for veterans and welcomes any other people who want to treat a veteran.

Scaretta, who is on his company’s community service committee, said he’s seen through other community work that once people hear about a kind gesture, they often pay it forward, and that’s what he’s hoping for.

Scaretta was at the bakery with his wife, Stefanie, and children Kayli, 7, and Jackson, 2, to meet Antignano.

“I think it’s a great idea, but knowing my husband, I’m not surprised,” Stefanie Scaretta said.

Antignano, who had never met Scaretta before Friday, said he loves everything at Scratch Baking, but the people who run the place and their croissants top the list.

“Look at me,” he said, grabbing his belly. “I can’t eat too much sugar, but I cheat.”