The global pandemic impacted every aspect of many businesses. For panaderias in Florida, the effects are still lingering.
“Even with the pandemic, the impact on our sales wasn’t too bad. The problem we have now is labor,” points out Tony Moré, an owner at Tampa-based La Segunda Bakery, which has 130 employees. “Right now, it is hard to find people to work, and it’s hard to train.”
At Moreno Bakery in Brandon, Florida, about 13 miles east of Tampa, the situation is similar, as many orders, especially last year when the pandemic was in full force, shifted from in-store pickup to takeout and delivery.
“Then everything was takeout. We were hurting for 2 months,” explains Susan Moreno, who runs Moreno Bakery with her husband Jose.
Customers began returning within a few months, and sales began to pick up.
“When things got busy, none of the customer service people wanted to come back. We were paying our bakers for hours they weren’t working to help them survive,” Susan Moreno says. “From then on, Florida stayed busy. If anything, more people came to the state. Business is good. We rebounded greatly. The only thing that hasn’t come back is corporate catering. Our projects now are devoted to finding what is the way forward in this whole new normal.”
Founded in 1987, El Mirasol proved to be a popular spot for local customers and became one of the most successful panaderías in Florida. A big part of the company’s success is attributed to their fresh-daily production of corn and flour tortillas.
“Our bakers have been here several years now. They are the ones who have kept the merry-go-round going,” says Elizabeth Leal, cake decorator for El Mirasol in Plant City, Florida.
The bakery is also well-known for its sweet breads, cakes and pastries. One dessert favorite is chocoflan with a layer of chocolate cake on top. The dessert is soaked in Caramello and topped with fresh fruit and a drizzle of white chocolate.
Another favorite at El Mirasol is the Taco, which is a filled chocolate dessert with chocolate icing and sprinkles on top.
“These are rather rich cakes, and the flavor is to die for,” Leal says proudly.