Hispanic baking in the heart of Disney World

 

For anyone who has visited central Florida, a trip to Walt Disney World is a must stop, and that’s why George Garcia, owner of La Hacienda Market, feels fortunate to operate a bakery here. La Hacienda Market, which opened in 2006, is situated in Kissimmee, Florida, in the heart of Disney World territory, a park that attracts 250,000 guests a day and spans 25,000 acres. All told, 60,000 employees work at Walt Disney World, and there are large numbers of Hispanics employed at the park’s restaurants and hotels.

“The amount of hotels from here (La Hacienda Market) to Disney is huge, and this is where they come to find authentic Mexican foods,” Garcia says proudly.

Tres leches cakes are the bakery’s top seller. La Hacienda makes more than 200 cakes a week from its small but efficiently run bakery where the young staff is committed to fun and high energy. At many bakeries, round cake pans are the norm, but here they often use heart-shaped cake pans, as well as round, to offer customers a unique shape of tres leches cake that always brings a smile.

Cake decorator Max Joseguera brought years of experience in cake decorating to La Hacienda Market when he joined the staff, and Garcia credits him for teaching him to make traditional tres leches cakes that are both eye-catching and delicious.

Strawberry and peach are their most popular fruit toppings on their tres leches cakes, and they also use plenty of kiwifruit, blueberries and grapes.

“We’ve made more than 80 cakes in one weekend,” Garcia says. “We offer all the popular sizes: 6-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch are the top sellers.”

Coffee cake, tiramisu and mill hojas are popular cakes on the menu at La Hacienda, which makes sure to cater to a wide variety of customers and cultures.

The bakery also sells hundreds of custard-style flans each week, including an increasing number of single slices that are conveniently packaged in clamshells for customers on the go. “We are selling a lot more single-serve flan now,” Garcia says. “Flan is the No. 1 dessert in the Caribbean, and there is huge Caribbean population in Kissimmee.”

Twenty-four years ago, Garcia came to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico, at the age of 15. He worked hard from the very start toward the goal of someday owning his own business, at one time working 100 hours a week at a central Florida nursery business.

In 2003, he opened a small retail store and three years later opened at his current location in Kissimmee, situated on a high-traffic highway where thousands of people drive by every day. The previous business was a Brazilian food store, but Garcia saw the opportunity to convert it to a grocery store and bakery that caters to Mexican-style cakes and breads. A year after starting the bakery, he also opened a Mexican restaurant right next door.

“I saw a necessity for Mexican products here because the Mexican community is really growing in this area,” Garcia says. “Ninety percent of our customers are Mexican. I saw an opportunity to meet a growing demand.”