- Special Projects
The first employees walk into Bronx’ Il Forno Bakery daily at 7 a.m. – just three hours after the final wave of workers leave.
Staffing the bakery means long days and nights for members of the Eduardo family, whose patriarch, Ramón, founded the Hunts Point business a decade ago. He runs Il Forno with the help of his daughter and co-manager, Jenny, as well as his sons.
The younger Eduardos are proud of the bakery, which supplies bread to more than 350 restaurants. But their Dominican-born father worries that his American-reared children are not hungry enough to chase the success he’s fought for, loaf by loaf.
As a young musician, Calixto Rivera couldn’t find the sound he was looking for in a cowbell. So he came up with a solution that would change his life – and the course of salsa music: “I decided to just make it myself.”
For the last 40 years, Rivera has reigned as the cowbell king of the Bronx, drawing musicians from around the world to JCR Percussion, his modest storefront shop on Odgen Avenue. He specializes in the production of three bells: the cha-cha bell, the timbale bell and the bongo bell, which vary in size and sound. Cowbells of different pitches are custom made to order.
With the help of his wife, Lilly, and his apprentice, Greg Askew, Rivera produces up to 200 cowbells a week. According to Guitar Center, his biggest client, competing cowbells are manufactured in bulk at factories.
Rivera, who is in his 70s, is proud to say that he’s the only one still making them by hand.