Gizzard makers find solace in bad weather

While it can be cold and rainy outside as people don’t want to leave their homes, some Laredoans actually see positives in the change in weather.

Bakeries, both long-established ones and newcomers still working from home, report that the cooler weather and rain actually help them sell. However, while they are doing well during this time as most say the pandemic didn’t affect them that much, they say continued inflation has been a problem that has plagued them all this year.

“It’s not a misconception, because rain is like honey to bees,” said Myrna Rodman, owner of Quickie Bakery and wife of the bakery’s original founder’s son. “I once read this article that in our Hispanic culture we are used to snacks at 3 pm, so it’s something that people really look forward to when it’s cold and when it rains. It’s one of our busiest days when it rains.”

Rodman said nothing beats coffee or hot chocolate on those kinds of days. This is the number 1 reason why people tend to enjoy eating sweetbreads on these dates.

“When it’s busy, we’re here longer. The bakers come every day at 3 in the morning, since every day everything is made fresh,” Rodman said. “We have to do everything here in the morning until we finish. If it’s raining and it’s raining all day, sometimes we just keep baking until we close to meet demand, but sometimes we just run out because it’s all we have. On those cold and rainy days, we do end up selling more, and that’s when we have to prepare to have more merchandise for the cold season.”

According to Alfred J. Rodman II, Quickie Bakery has been in business since 1969. It has served the community with “the goal of making the best quality pan dulce for our customers” regardless of the temperature.

Rodman says that the Christmas season and Three Kings Day, or the Three Kings festival celebrated on January 6 with the Rosca de Reyes, are some of the busiest times of the year. Therefore, winter tends to be the biggest selling point for your bakery.

“With COVID and the shortage of things, we definitely have been preparing for these days since September,” Rodman said.

Another local bakery that reports good sales during cold weather and rainy days is Cakeland, a fourth generation family business. The current owner said the business started because his great-grandfather was a baker, and through each generation, they have been able to maintain, build, and evolve from a simple bakery to a bakery and cafe.

“The biggest opportunity we’ve experienced through our business has been serving generations of customers who have grown with us over the years,” said Amanda Montoya, owner of Cakeland. “Those who were once children who came with their parents to eat pan dulce are now bringing their own children and grandchildren. It has been nice to hear their stories and their connection to our products and our store.”

Montoya says that cold weather is also often a good time to sell.

“As much as it is a business, there is art in everything we do, from our interior design to the design of our products,” Montoya said. “Design is a way to continue to be innovative and to continue to challenge ourselves to be the best.”

Another sweetbread maker who tends to focus mostly on cakes with her home business is María Ortiz. The owner of Dulces Dulces de DanIsma, which can be found on Facebook, has been in business for about five years and has been successful even in the midst of the pandemic and inflation. She also maintains that the cold season is the best time to sell her loaves.

“It really makes a difference in sales,” Ortiz said. “Sometimes I earn twice as much as on regular days and everything is sold. And it also varies during the week and on weekends.”

For all the bakeries, the pandemic did not seem to be a bad time for them since more people were spending their time at home and could sell to those customers who wanted to buy something to consume.

“Something my husband and son discussed was that sweetbreads are comfort food and they make you feel better and they make you feel good, so we just had to settle in so we could serve them to our curbside customers,” Rodman said. “We closed for a week to plan what we were going to do, if we wanted to stay open and how to help our employees, because it was about their families and what they had to support at home. But we were able to keep up with the demand and thankfully it didn’t affect us as much more than having to buy more protective gear to keep our employees safe while on the job. We’ve been busy ever since, and it’s been a blessing.”

According to Montoya, the pandemic affected their business in many ways, however most of them were positive as they were able to adapt to the changes fairly quickly and adjust as needed. He also gave them the opportunity to “look deeper into our company to realign” where things needed to be readjusted.

While the pandemic may not have hampered their business, the continued growth in inflation has.

“Eggs went up (in price), milk, flour, so yeah, we had to increase some of our gizzards,” Rodman said. “But we always try not to push it too high, as we want the community that has supported it over the years to be able to buy it.”

Montoya also claims that inflation has negatively impacted them.

“I think it has impacted everyone,” Montoya said. “This year especially, we have seen an increase of about 15% in the cost of goods needed to make our products.”

Ortiz said inflation has hit her as she used a lot of eggs, milk and butter for her cakes, all of which have skyrocketed in price.

He also claims that inflation has hurt his business because customers have less money and don’t want to spend more on cakes, since he has had to raise prices due to rising costs.

He reckons 2022 will be one of the toughest years for his business since it started.

“Before, I used to pay $7 for a carton of eggs and now I pay $16.80, so that increased more than 50%,” Ortiz said. “I had to adjust the prices by adding the extra costs to my cakes, which some customers don’t like.”

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