Maintaining a close connection to employees is one of the secrets to success at El Rancho Gilbert, one of the most popular panaderías in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, Arizona.

“I think of myself as an employee,” says Carlos Rascon, who runs family-owned El Rancho Gilbert, which was founded 28 years ago. “We are all here for the same thing. You are here to make a living.”

As such, Rascon manages the business with all employees like a family, and it shows. There are smiles on every face on this busy weekday morning, when a steady flow of customers come in to purchase the delicious colorful conchas, empanadas, polvorones, mantecadas, pastries and donuts.

Rascon is particularly excited on this late October day. “I love, love, love the holidays,” he exclaims, as he thinks about upcoming celebrations.

When he needs to head to the bank, Rascon brings along several seasonal breads to hand out to the bank employees, to bring them a little cheer. “I love the holidays when the special breads are out. Those breads that come out once a year, I bring them out to the public and have people enjoy them.”

As for the style of how El Rancho Gilbert makes their traditional holiday breads, the bakery owner says they will always stay true to tradition. They make holidays breads in the same style as hundreds of years ago, staying true to the comforts of the past. He understands those who try new things, and he respects their efforts 100%.

But for the loyal customers at El Rancho Gilbert, who are considered part of the family, they will stick to the traditions of breads they know and love.

“Our bakers taste the bread with care, so that we preserve the authenticity, the quality, and our roots. I can’t emphasize that enough,” Rascon says. “The appeal is aesthetically pleasing. That’s a different ballgame.”