The crowd-pleasing, proudly family-owned Porto’s Bakery & Café (think potato balls & cheese rolls) opened its biggest, long-anticipated branch in Buena Park (25,000 sq.ft.) up the street from Knott’s Berry Farm in early March. The Porto’s own the property. Actor Andy Garcia officiated at the ribbon-cutting. It’s been a resounding success. It even offers complimentary valet parking to negate potential parking hassles.
Porto’s traces 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.
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 Rolls™, Refugiados™-guava and cheese strudels, and the infamous Potato Ball™, 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.
Porto’s Bakery & Café now serves thousands of customers and employs hundreds of team members in Southern California, with stores in Glendale, Burbank, Downey and now, Buena Park. In 2018 West Covina is on the horizon. Rumors are out there supporting a future Northridge store thereafter.