Bamber’s Superette offers stunning specialty selections
“Here’s the thing: If I had to die today, there’s only three things I really want. One is Gene Bamber’s almond croissants.”
These are the words of an enthusiastic customer named Kate who I met one Saturday while chatting with Gene and Gini Bamber inside their fancy Italian specialty grocery store in South Bend, Bamber’s Superette. I haven’t yet tried those almond croissants, but you better believe that’s what I’m going to buy next time I’m there. All the dough for the baked breads and goods come from France or Italy and are baked by Gene himself, except his wife Gini makes the pies. Bamber’s also makes fresh deli goods including salad, soup, cannoli and desserts.
Gene gave me a little tour of the store and pointed out some of his favorite products right now, which I will soon return to buy. He first showed me the Sant’Eustachio coffee that is wood roasted in Rome. I’m fairly certain this product is not available anywhere else in the area. Next he pointed out the coffee roasted specifically for Bamber’s. I asked him where it was roasted and he got a sly look and explained, “that one I never tell.” He went on to say the gentleman who roasts Bamber’s special coffee has been a precious secret for 24 years. Now this is the kind of mystery I love. This store sells only the best.
Next he directed me to a wall of tempting ice cream. He pulled out a pint of Dr. Bob’s ice cream and handed it to me so I could check the short list of readable ingredients. He said it’s the freshest tasting and “we’ve had lots of ice cream’s come and go, but Dr. Bob’s has always remained.” I placed the cold pint back into the freezer display slightly askew, and Gene of course reached back in to make it right.
The store always looks pristine. Beautifully packaged products perfectly line shining stainless steel shelves and the floor practically sparkles. Gene’s wife Gini told me that many customers take care to wipe their feet as they enter and part-time employees vacuum the back room nearly all day. It’s part of the experience. Spotless, vibrant, distinct. I dare you to find another store with the same Italian flair and painstakingly selected products.
Gene also gestured to a case of fabulous looking Italian cheeses and the mighty impressive selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars as some of his favorite products. Gini joked that 3 out of her 5 favorite products were wine, and you know I was eyeing the long shelf of carefully selected craft beer.
Both Gene and Gini said that, even more than selecting the gourmet products, they love meeting interesting people and providing products that make them happy. “Ultimately you want customers to be happy when they leave,” said Gene. “You want people to remember you and feel good about it.”
Gene and Gini stop to greet every customer and know most of them by name. Both are always ready to discuss wine and food pairings, answer your questions or simply chat about life. Gini encouraged me to try some of the traditional Italian goods and candies that are arriving for the holidays. She described her favorite, the panettone, a Christmas sweet bread with candied oranges, raisins and lemon zest. She said panettone is surrounded by ancient legend. “A young baker made it for his bride in a flour pot. That’s why it’s the shape it is,” she explained. “It makes an excellent French toast!”
In every way, Bamber’s Superette Food Market is charming. I particularly like to buy specialty food items here as gifts for any time of year, but especially the holidays. And if you hadn’t noticed yet, it’s getting to be that time of year. Go take a look.
Bamber’s Superette Food Market
1145 Mishawaka Avenue
South Bend, IN