About Us.

The Al Cohen's Difference

Our fresh products are well loved in various grocery locations in the Western New York area, and beyond.

  • Over 130 years of bakery industry experience and longevity
  • Scratch-like quality products without all the scratch-made labor
  • Authentic, olde world formulas and small batch production
  • Premium quality, globally sourced ingredients
  • Satisfaction guaranteed

Al Cohen's Capabilities

  • Retail and food service product offerings
  • Wide range of sizes, formats and packaging options
  • In-house R&D lab with rapid customization capabilities
  • Branded, private brand and co-pack product solutions
  • Short and long-run production capabilities
  • Blast freezing process to maximize quality and shelf life

Al Cohen's History

1888

1888 – Joseph Cohen introduces his family’s 300 year old pumpernickel rye bread recipe to Western New York

1888

1894

1894 – Joseph Cohen opens his bakery at 18 Straus Street, serving his famous Pumpernickel and Rye bread products to Western New York customers

1894

1933

1933 – Al Cohen moves the bakery to the corner of Broadway and Sobieski Street, a few blocks from the original bakery

1933

1956

1956 – Al Cohen’s son, Paul Cohen, takes over the bakery

1956

1975

1975 – Paul’s son Henry Cohen takes over bakery

1975

1978

1978 – Al Cohen’s begins making frozen pizza dough for local pizzeria owners

1978

1984

1984 – Henry Cohen constructs a state-of-the-art automated frozen dough production facility

1984

1994

1994 – John Blando and Mark DiDomenico acquire Al Cohen’s from Henry Cohen

1994

2019

2019 – Chris Covelli, Robert Drago and Gioia Capital acquire Al Cohen’s bakery

2019

Meet Our Team

Chris Covelli

Managing Partner

Chris Covelli is a food industry entrepreneur with over 6 years of experience. Chris founded a quick service food franchise called Get Fried Fry Café in Buffalo, NY in 2014. After establishing two wholly owned stores, he grew the concept to over 14 system-wide units in less than two and a half years. Chris was instrumental in overseeing the company’s quality control, operations, supply chain and business development functions.

After executing a majority acquisition of Get Fried in August 2019, he acquired Al Cohens with partners Robert Drago and Richard Gioa. Chris is the Managing Partner of Al Cohens and is responsible for all day to day operations of the business.

In addition to his role as Managing Partner of Al Cohens, Chris is active in the community in a number of organizations including Big Brother Big Sisters of WNY, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and a mentor in the Nichols School Entrepreneurship class.

He holds a B.S. in Business Management from Florida Gulf Coast University where he received a scholarship to play Division 1 golf.

Robert Drago

Partner/Board Chairman

Robert (Rob) Drago is a third-generation food industry executive, board advisor and community leader with over 30 years of food and CPG-related leadership and consulting experience.

A bakery industry veteran, he previously served as chief executive officer of Costanzo’s Bakery, Inc. in Buffalo, NY. Prior to Costanzo’s he was president of Bakewise Brands, LLC, a PE-backed bakery holding company with facilities in three states where he was recruited in a national search after advancing through a variety of senior-level operating and consulting roles with companies including Goya Foods, Rich Products Corporation and eDiets.com.

In addition to his role as partner/board chairman of Al Cohen’s he is president of Canalside Advisors, LLC, a Rochester, NY-based advisory firm he founded in 2015, which focuses on business acquisition, sell-side advisory and interim c-level consulting projects focused primarily within the CPG industry. He also serves on the boards of Special Touch Bakery (board chairman), RealEats USA (advisory board chairman) and Holy Childhood School (director).

He holds a B.S. in Finance from Babson College and an M.B.A. from the University of Buffalo.

Jeffrey Blando

Operations Manager

Jeffrey (Jeff) Blando is a second-generation food industry operator. Jeff’s father, John Blando was one of the previous owners of Al Cohens, which allowed Jeff the opportunity to learn the business from a very young age.

After graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Jeff returned to Al Cohens in an operations role in 2012. After several years in various roles at Al Cohens, he was promoted to Operations Manager.

Jeff is responsible for key day to day responsibilities at the bakery including staffing, production schedules, inventory management, mechanical preventative maintenance oversight, and many other important tasks.

He holds a B.S. in Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology

Mark DiDomenico

Senior Consultant

Mark DiDomenico is a 40+ year food industry veteran. After several years as a muffin and bread truck route driver, Mark and partner John Blando acquired Al Cohens Bakery in 1993 from Henry Cohen of the Cohens family.

After learning the business post-acquisition, Mark successfully grew Al Cohens business over the next 25 years. He served as President at Al Cohens for 15 years and will remain in a similar role as a senior consultant in the business.