CASPER — When Tacos Mexico owner Alex Rosales opened his bakery, some customers were surprised to learn Mexican foods weren’t all based on the tortilla.
“I’ve been able to talk to them and explain to them another side of the culture they would otherwise not be exposed to,” he said. “It is pretty awesome because they not only enjoy it, they embrace it because it is new and exciting.”
Panaderia Mexico, Casper’s first and only Mexican bakery, offers a variety of traditional pastries and breads. Since opening two months ago, it’s also created a cultural exchange of sorts between Rosales and his customers.
He teaches them about his heritage and they share stories about their culinary customs.
“It is cool to give them a little background and history on it,” he said.
Rosales opened Tacos Mexico 10 years ago. The restaurant has been successful, but he saw a need for a Mexican bakery that could offer traditional foods that some customers were traveling to Denver to buy.
An experience at a local diner encouraged him to pursue his idea. While waiting to pay for his meal, he noticed customers who came to the restaurant solely to purchase pies.
“There was definitely a market for it,” he said. “It was just a matter of timing. I was able to save up a little bit of money and add the bakery and create something different to offer customers.
With help from friends and family, he converted a shopping center storage area next to Tacos Mexico into the bakery. They knocked out a wall so customers can visit the bakery without leaving the restaurant.
Rosales also hired Guillermo Maldonado, a Denver man with more than two decades of experience in Mexican bakeries.
“He can pretty much do it all, everything from cakes to traditional pastries to breads,” Maldonado said. “It has been a really good working relationship bringing him over here.”
Mexican baked goods share some similarities with the items found in a traditional, American bakery. But they tend to emphasize flavor over sweetness.
“People aren’t looking for something necessarily sweet,” Rosales said. “They just want something fresh and good.”
The bakery also sells breakfast burritos and coffee, along with Mexican drinks and candies. Rosales hopes to eventually offer additional breakfast dishes and tamales.
So far, response to the bakery has been positive. The new offerings have lured many Tacos Mexico customers over to the bakery, according to Rosales. The two businesses seem to complement one another.
It’s been rewarding to see customers enjoy new foods, Rosales said.
“It is actually cool to have a little success in this business,” he said. “But at the same time, it is even better to expose people to something new and a different part of the Mexican culture.”
Contact Joshua Wolfson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-266-0582.