April 17, 2015, Wilbraham rejoiced as brothers Anthony and Dominic Maloni opened the doors to Rice Fruit Farm once again after several years. “We took a calculated risk in opening this business again,” states Maloni. Though he believed that he would do well, he just did not realize how well the business would do. Rice Fruit Farm is a small business focused on creating a big family style atmosphere. The store attracts so many due to their delicious baked goods, homemade breakfast sandwiches, phenomenal coffee and their local fresh produce. “The main draw here that I have noticed would be the coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and our muffin tops. People come in every morning and have a coffee and a sandwich or a coffee and a muffin top. We use all natural, cage free eggs to make our sandwiches so they are done right,” Maloni says when talking about the favorites among the locals.
In 1894, the Rice family took that same risk and opened up Rice Fruit Farm. They prided themselves on keeping that family atmosphere and homemade baked goods. Sadly, former owner, Jesse Rice passed away in 2010 and although the farm stand had closed a year prior, it still remained a town landmark. The store closed in 2009 and remained that way until a man saw great opportunity and decided to purchase the building from the Rice family and restore what once was. After several years, Rice Fruit Farm opened its doors once again with new owners and the same atmosphere Jesse Rice created many years before.
Since opening in 2015, the Maloni brothers had kept much of the originality of Rice Fruit Farm the same. They brought back Georgia, one of the original bakers who worked for Mr. Rice. They kept much of the same machinery that was used in the baking process and kept the vibe the same. Anthony Maloni stated, “the only thing that is different would be that his orchards were sold off separately and now we focus mainly on the business rather than the orchards.” They have also created something that is even better than business which a safe place for kids especially the high school kids to come and hang out and relax. The Maloni brothers are proud to know that it is their greatest achievement in opening this business. They are well known for their donations and charity work throughout the community but nothing compares to making sure kids and families are comfortable. “It is a place that they can come and have a cup of coffee and feel safe, it is all we want for them,” Maloni says. He was particularly proud of being able to help the community by providing 30 jobs and adding revenue for the town. Rice Fruit Farm is successful because he understands community pride.
Anthony Maloni believes that if Mr. Rice was able to be here today that, “he would be proud and quite pleased that we chose to go that extra mile, using his resources, not changing anything and repurposed what he had.” Mr. Maloni truly believes that Rice Fruit Farm is the heart and soul of the community and no one seems to disagree. Wilbraham finally has their historical and delicious landmark back.