For just shy of 80 years, the Panaderia Santa Teresita has been baking up a storm in Mérida’s García Ginerés neighborhood.
A couple of years ago, the bakeries founder Álvaro Javier Herrera passed away at 96, while at the same time his son Gerardo decided it was about time to retire.
After several long family chats, the family decided that given the COVID-19 pandemic, stiffer-than-ever competition, and skyrocketing energy and production costs, it may be time to call it quits.
But thankfully for everyone who loves great bread, Don Álvaro’s grandchildren Moroni and Jocabet decided to take on the challenge of keeping their family business going.
But the brother-and-sister team has done much more than simply keep the bakery’s doors open. The bakery is now better than ever.
“We are extremely proud of what our family has accomplished and want not just to continue on but to thrive,” said Jocabet, the youngest of Don Ávlaro’s children.
The bakery continues to serve up traditional pan dulce, as well as Yucatán-style baguettes, known locally as pan frances.
But aside from the typical fare, Jocabet and Moroni have introduced several specialty items including delicious apple strudels, thin-crust personal pizzas, and pan de pichon, a specialty from the town of Pomuch in the neighboring state of Campeche.
“We respect the old ways and are committed to continuing on using the same artisanal processes that our father and grandfather taught us,” says Moroni. “But times are changing and we need to switch some things up as well to stay relevant and competitive.”
Along with additions to the bakery’s offerings, the new generation has opted to scale back their storefront, moving around the corner but in the same building, to save on energy costs.
“It was a tough call, but it’s not like we have changed locations or anything, and to be honest in the context of the pandemic our new setup works even better,” said Jocabet.
But one thing that has not changed is the Herrera family’s commitment to staying true to traditional baking methods, using only the best ingredients and their now ancient stone wood-burning oven.
“Staying true to our roots is something that is very important to us both. We want to continue to get up early every day and offer up the best product we can at a fair price,” says the brother-and-sister team.
On a personal note, both my parents still live in the home I grew up in, in García Ginerés.
Some of my earliest memories are of being sent by my mother to pick up “frances” at Santa Teresita just a couple of blocks away.
Given the large number of local business closures caused by both the pandemic and inflation, it’s wonderful to see this bakery continue to thrive thanks to the hard work and creativity of the new generation at the helm.
I am particularly fond of the strudel, which has become somewhat of a morning staple at home.
“Our grandfather came to Mérida from Motul with a single peso in his pocket, I am sure we will find the way to keep our tradition going for another 80 years,” said Moroni.
For more information visit Santa Teresita’s Facebook page, or visit them on Calle 11 with 18 in García Ginerés.
Thanks to Yesica Benitez Chan for her assistance in researching this article.