Arnone Cafe and Bakery was closed Wednesday, but a crowd of more than 100 customers still lined the sidewalk outside.

The faithful group wasn't waiting for the sweet cannolis or strong cups of cappuccino that have drawn the hungry to the beige building on Howard Avenue for decades — they were waiting for a hearse.

After a "courageous" battle with cancer, master baker Salvatore Arnone died Sunday. He was 78.

Salvatore and his wife Giulia have fed thousands since they first opened the doors to their cafe in 1985 and over the years, dozens of regulars became part of the extended family that called them 'Poppa' and 'Momma.'

"Momma's heart is broke beyond imagination," said Michael Fontaine who joined the crowd drawn back to the restaurant on a cold weekday morning to bid Salvatore a final farewell before his burial.

The former motorcycle cop said he's been a friend to the Arnone's for 25 years.

"Momma would make us homemade penne with the garlic sauce," he recalled. "The outpouring of generosity of this family is indescribable at times."

Michael Fontaine, Windsor

Michael Fontaine is one of dozens of regulars the Arnone family treat as family. (Meg Roberts/Twitter)

That friendship grew to the point where Fontaine was the guy the family would call when Poppa needed a ride to the airport.

"He was a trooper, if you want to say someone was a cat, Poppa was a cat, because every time he turned around we thought he'd beat that terrible disease of cancer."

Family known for its generosity

Stephanie Dupuis said Giulia was known to bring a plate of the family's famous pastries to her children's schools.

"We love the Arnone family," she added. "They've been such a generous family to the entire community and we're very grateful for them."

Among the tears Wednesday were plenty of smiles, as friends recalled some of their favourite moments with Salvatore.

"We're sad to see him go, but I'm sure the family will live on [with] his legacy." - Joe Montaleone

Joe Montaleone is part of a "bunch" who gather at the restaurant every morning at 8 a.m. 

"We have a lot of laughs and a lot of great stories," he said, explaining they're so close Momma even calls his group her "children."

Montaleone said the Arnone's are known throughout Windsor for delicious baked goods and the love they shared with anyone who came through their door.

 "They're a wonderful family," he added. "We're sad to see him go, but I'm sure the family will live on [with] his legacy."