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Panaderia La Trigueña

Hard work keeps husband and wife’s panaderia going

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Panaderia La Trigueña

Panaderia La Trigueña co-owner Juan Ramirez, who learned how to bake since he was a child, holds two of the large colorful breads made at their bakery in downtown Manteca.


POSTED February 4, 2012 12:23 a.m.

Panaderia La Trigueña has been a fixture in downtown Manteca for nearly 30 years.

But for about a decade after it first opened its doors, it was hardly visible to those passing by Yosemite Avenue. That’s because the early Panaderia La Trigueña was tucked away in the back of the commercial building that was fronted by a store specializing in sports memorabilia. The only sign of the bakery in the back was a covered narrow stoop that served as the entrance.

Today, downtown pedestrian shoppers or motorists can hardly miss the colorful front of the Mexican panaderia owned by husband and wife Juan and Leticia Ramirez. It has an enviable location as downtown commercial establishments go. It is right across the street from the now empty Kelley Brothers Brewery and Brickyard Oven, and just roughly 100 feet away from the busy intersection of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street.

A prime location is not the only thing that is most beneficial to the panaderia. Next to it is an ample parking lot that is accessible both from North Grant Street and Yosemite Avenue.

During its first decade, Panaderia La Trigueña was strictly a bakery. Juan brought into the business not just the strong work ethic he learned from his father but everything he knows about the business of baking  bread and other Mexican pastries and other delectable specialties. He has zealously kept framed the feature stories that appeared in the local newspapers including the Manteca Bulletin which chronicled the bakery’s popularity. During those early years, the Ramirez couple’s bakery was the only one of its kind as a Mexican bakery. That’s not the case anymore in Manteca, especially in the downtown district.

In 1994, the bakery business was booming. The Ramirezes also decided it was a good time to expand. As luck would have it, the sports memorabilia store in front of the building where they had the bakery folded. Persuaded by the rent cost offered by the owner of the property, the Manteca couple took the plunge of more than doubling their business.

“The rent was right,” Juan said of the major reason they decided to expand the bakery.

Today, the store is chock-full of not just Mexican products – from clothes and many kinds of colorful piñatas to spices and canned goods – but a whole slew of Central American goods as well. In fact, Livermore-born Leticia said the Central American goodies that include flour native to those countries as well as various kinds of beans and canned delicacies are some of their most popular items at the store.

They have also added a new store feature: barbecued lunch which is available Thursday through Sunday – from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The food is barbecued outside in the parking lot. Customers can enjoy a sit-down meal at the dining tables inside or outside the store.

Juan still does plenty of baking Mexican bread. Leticia’s specialty is baking cakes for special occasions such as weddings, quinceaneras, wedding anniversaries, baptisms, confirmations, and birthdays. Leticia’s creations are elaborate and colorful, a talent she learned at a “baking school” she attended 16 years ago. A company in Fresno that supplied all of their baking flour needs sent her to the baking school, she said. They still purchase their flour from the same company.

The No. 1 that is most often ordered by customers, she said, is called “Tres Leches.” It’s a cake that is made of three kinds of milk: regular, condensed, and evaporated.

Customers who shop at the store can also enjoy two conveniences provided by the panaderia: wire money to Mexico, and pay their PG&E bills without any extra charge.

For the most part, the husband and wife panaderia owners provide all the manpower that they need. But sometimes, they get some help from their two boys, Adrian, 24, and Juan Jr., 23, who are both working at Bass Pro Shops in Manteca. Adrian is also attending Delta College. Both graduated from East Union High School. The youngest in the family is Yesena, 13, who goes to MacParland School.

“They grew up helping us here at the store,” Leticia said of their two sons.

In the last few years, there have been a number of other Mexican bakeries in the downtown district. Lea’s Bakery which ran for many years in the building next to the PG&E office on Yosemite Avenue, is now Panaderia Laurita owned by a family from San Jose. Across the street from Laurita is La Altena Market which also now includes a bakery. La Altena used to be located on North Main Street.

The competition has been a challenge, admitted Juan and Leticia, which means they have to work even harder to maintain the business, they said.

“The sun comes out for everybody,” Leticia said.

“As long as God gives us life, we’re still going,” added Juan.

— Rose Albano Risso
city editor

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