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Mantecas La Triguena bakes taste of yesteryear
Juan Ramirez puts a rack of fresh-baked bread into the display at Panaderia La Triguena the Mexican bakery that he has owned and operated with his wife Leticia for nearly 20 years in downtown Manteca. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The 209

People trust Juan Ramirez because they trust his recipes.

They trust that when they walk into Panaderia La Triguena and buy a box of Mexican pastries or fresh-based bread or anything else that be prepares with his wife Leticia that they’re going to get the flavor that they remember from their youth.

They trust that sense of yesterday that comes with every bite – the preservative-free, wholesome ingredients that you’ll find in a cookie or the rich buttery texture included in every torta roll.

For more than 20 years he’s been incorporating the family traditions and recipes that were passed on to him from his father in the products that he prepares for his dedicated customer base. Even as competition has emerged and the economy crumbled he has been able to retain that steady and dedicated group that stop in regularly – looking for that sliver of home.

“As a business we’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs – we’ve had workers that have helped us along the way and then left because they needed more hours and people that wouldn’t take the job because it didn’t provide them with enough,” Ramriez said. “But throughout it all we’ve been able to provide for our family and stay in business by serving the people the recipes that have long been in my family.

“It’s about taking care of my customers and knowing what they want and cooking from my heart.”

Everything that ends up on his racks comes from scratch. Everything comes from recipes that were handed down by his grandmother and his father in the sort of lineage progression that isn’t all that uncommon for Mexican families to follow.

Originally the bakery started off as just a counter – tucked back in the corner of the building that they currently occupy – that quickly became a hit with local Hispanic families and other Manteca residents.

The space next door, which was at one time occupied by a sports apparel retailer, became available, and the opportunity to open both a market and a bakery seemed like the next logical step for the family – especially with a growing Mexican population that needed service centers to wire money to their families back home and purchase low-cost phone cards that allowed for long-distance communication.

It turned out to be one of the best investments they could have made.

Ramirez says that some months the market helps keep the doors open, and has been – especially the last few years – one of the biggest reasons that the business has been able to survive in an era where many mom-and-pop shops like theirs are struggling and shuttering their doors.

That flexibility also gives him the chance to focus on what he really loves.

“It’s a chance to carry on something that’s from the old-times – that’s my favorite part about doing this,” he said. “And the people like it too.”

Panaderia La Triguena is located at 161 E. Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For additional information, or to place a special order, call (209) 824-1681.