Porto’s Bakery & Cafe
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Tracing its origins to the year 1960, when the Porto family made the tough decision to leave their home in Manzanillo, Cuba. After living through the drastic changes that were taking place around them, they requested permission to leave the country. Immediately Raul Sr. was terminated from his job and sent away to manual labor for the duration of the wait period. Wife, Rosa Porto was also let go. Knowing that it may take years to be able to leave the country, Rosa found herself alone and having to find a means to support her three children Betty, Raul Jr., and Margarita.
Rosa, always a talented cake maker, with a passion for baking, entrenched herself in perfecting her recipes and began selling her delicious cakes to friends and neighbors not realizing that she was also building herself a loyal customer base.
When the family finally emigrated from Cuba to California, they had not much more than the clothes on their backs, Raul Sr.’s strong work ethic, Rosa’s exceptional baking skills, and a dream for a better life. Soon after the plane landed, Rosa realized that her reputation had preceded her, and met her first customer just as she got off the plane. Raul Sr. took a job as a mechanic and after work delivered Rosa’s cakes. These were hard times, but the family was now in a country filled with limitless opportunities and their dream for a better future became more real as the years passed.
Rosa continued on with her cake business and when their home could no longer accommodate the increased demand, opened a little 300-square foot bakery on Sunset Blvd, in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. From day one, the place was busy, serving close to 50 customers a day. After tirelessly working two jobs, Raul Sr. left his latter job at Van De Kamp’s and joined Rosa full time. Meanwhile, their children Betty, Raul Jr., and Margarita managed to maintain their studies and learn the different parts of the business; baking, decorating, food preparation, customer service, and finances.
In the 1980’s, after graduating college, Betty, Raul Jr. and Margarita stayed on with the business each taking on more specific roles. Raul Jr. took on managing the finances and alongside his long-time co-worker and friend, Tony Salazar, focused on new product development, production improvements, and quality control. Margarita joined her mom in the cake decorating area, and Betty managed alongside her father assisting customers.
Rosa’s Cuban cakes were soon joined by French mousses, Italian sweets, and international savories. As customers flocked to the bakery demanding countless quantities of Cheese RollsTM, RefugiadosTM-guava and cheese strudels, and the infamous Potato BallTM , space became critical. A move was made to a 2,000-square foot facility in Glendale and six years later to one double in size. The bakery continued to grow and more employees where hired to handle the demand for its increasingly broad line of cakes, desserts, and savories.
The years proved Rosa’s formula successful. With the entire family’s effort, expansion to a 20,000-square foot facility took place in the 1990’s. Later further expansion included a Café with a menu showcasing signature Cuban sandwiches and lunch favorites. Rosa used her talents into a means of supporting her family and the business she began has turned into one of the most unique family-owned businesses in Southern California. Rosa Porto is now retired, but her recipes and her high standards remain, including her motto, “quality is the number one ingredient in everything we do”.
Porto’s Bakery & Café now serves thousands of customers and employs hundreds of team members in Southern California, with a store in Glendale, a store in Burbank, and a third in the city of Downey.