Cuban Bakery Draws in Hundreds to Dine
Written By: Ashley Ruiz Porto’s Bakery Buena Park
At Porto’s Bakery, they let the food do the talking. Then the people eating the food talk and, of course, they always say good things. Or rather, type, share, tweet, and tag until the rest of us are left with major #FoodEnvy.
Of course, the anticipation and anxiety levels were high in the world of social media as urgent questions like, “When will Buena Park Porto’s open? I’m so excited!” began popping up on the company’s Instagram more than two months before the location’s opening.
Then the day came. On March 1, Beatriz Porto hustled to the door of the immaculate glass building at 4:30 a.m., and there was already a line forming. You know what they say, the early bird catches the worm, or in this case the flakey sweet pastries, chicken empanadas, and triple chocolate mousse.
Five days after their opening, the line was still out the door to the parking lot, well past the typical lunch rush – a great improvement from the line that wrapped around the building or the line that snaked around the building and down the street past the hotels on Beach Boulevard.
To keep wait times low and fire codes at ease, a well-dressed greeter equipped with an earpiece and walkie talkie directed the line, making sure there were no more than 245 people in the building at one time. When I stepped up to the plate, he promptly radioed for Beatriz, who he fondly referred to as Betty, and she emerged with a bright smile to usher me in.
Over the wafting scent of baked goods, coffee, home-cooked meals, and happy chatter, Betty told me a bit about the restaurant’s deep roots, explaining that when her mother, Rosa Porto, established the bakery she could have never imagined what it would be like today.
“She started the mom and pop for us [kids] to get an education,” Betty said sweetly of her now 87-year-old mother.
The history of the bakery tells of the journey Rosa and Raul Porto made from Manzanillo, Cuba to the States, after deciding to leave in the 1960’s. The couple had little more than each other; Rosa’s perfected baking skills, and Raul’s commitment to working hard, but it proved to be more than enough for them as they soon began rapidly fulfilling orders out of their 300-square foot shop in Los Angeles.
Now, standing in a location more than 50 times that size, Betty explained that her mother’s wish for her and her two siblings, Raul Jr. and Margarita, to graduate from college became a reality in the 1980s. After graduation, the children stuck together, combining their unique skills to improve the business further and turn it into what it is today.
Betty explained that much of their recent growth had to do with the company’s expansion to Facebook and Instagram. Not to mention, a BuzzFeed feature on their tres leches cake that was viewed a mere 13,000 times, and a number one spot on Yelp’s 2016 List of 100 Best Places to Eat in the US. That being said, it’s easy to see why the Buena Park grand opening has been the company’s largest yet—we still have to wait and see how the upcoming West Covina location goes!
The rush of new and returning customers didn’t seem bothered by the lines, as they smiled and chatted. Kids waited in line, too, clearly quieted by the promise of baked treats. The consensus on what customers were anticipating the most was a tie between the Potato Balls and the boxes of baked goods that guests stocked up on as they left the bakery.
One family even drove over an hour from Rialto to Buena Park. When asked what their favorite item was, they responded with “todo,” meaning everything. They narrowed it down to guava pastries and “Platos Cubanos,” dinner plates with chicken, steak, or pork and pickled red onions, steamed rice, black beans and golden fried bananas. They even gave a thumbs up to the new Vege-tariano Sandwich with eggplant, cucumbers, artichokes and herb aioli.
Come to the newest location bearing in mind that good things come to those that wait, and it’s definitely worth the wait!
7640 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park, CA 90620
Cuban Croissants, Cookies, Scones…Hungry Yet?