Maria Papa, co-owner of Perreca’s Bakery and owner of More Perreca’s Italian Kitchen in Schenectady jokes that she was “pretty much forced to work at Perreca’s Bakery since age 10.”
She still works at the spot known for his crusty Italian bread and other baked goods today, with a break in her late teens and early twenties.
Papa is the first in her family to go to college.
“The late Dan DiNicola was my high school English teacher and pushed me to apply,” says Papa of DiNicola who is best known locally for his movie reviews that aired on WRGB and ran in the Schenectady Gazette. “Before he brought it up, the thought of going to college never crossed my mind.”
After graduating college she went to New York and became a publishing executive, doing a stint as a literary critic for Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal to the tune of $15 a review and no byline, she recalls.
“The highlight of this period was smoking a cigar in the back of a limousine with Gloria Steinem,” says the restaurant owner.
In addition to her restaurant and bakery, Papa is a low-key developer with properties in Manhattan, Cape Cod, and of course, her “beloved Schenectady.”
She says she loves social media and is currently teaching herself the nuances of Instagram.
"I recently said to my son, ‘I’m a Grammer now,'” says the 56-year-old. “He said, ‘Never say that out loud ever again.’”
You can follow Papa, who is today’s 20 things, on Instagram.