Their love story started over pastelitos. Now they own a franchise of this Miami bakery
Lisy Zambrana and Relvis Díaz fell in love in a Miami bakery.
She was 21 years old, just graduated from Miami Dade College and working in a bakery as a cashier. He would come in for cafe con leche and pastelitos. A lot.
Then one day he found the courage to invite her to lunch.
“We had our first date about a month after we started talking,” says Zambrana. “No, he didn’t take me to eat pastelitos,” she jokes. “At the end of 2020 he proposed.”
Cafecito and pastelitos were destined to be part of their path because in April the Cuban couple opened the 21st Vicky Bakery franchise on Bird Road and 82nd Avenue, in front of Tropical Park.
“I didn’t want to forget that number, because with the Bird Road store, Vicky Bakery is coming of age,” says Díaz, an electrical contractor. He decided to acquire a Vicky Bakery franchise because of its name recognition as of one of the most popular bakeries in Miami.
It was another Cuban couple, Antonio and Gelasia Cao, who arrived to Miami in 1968, that bought the first Vicky Bakery in 1972 in Hialeah. Their romance also began in a bakery. They both worked at La Vencedora, the most famous cafeteria in Cárdenas, a town near Varadero beach in Matanzas, Cuba. Antonio brought the recipe for pastelitos de guayaba from Cuba and was able to stand out in Miami, land of croquetas, coladas and Cuban pastries.
Today, Vicky Bakery is all over South Florida and the franchises continue to grow, which allowed Zambrana and Díaz to open their bakery.
“The menu is the same for all Vicky Bakery stores,” Zambrana says, but owners can make additions depending on the neighborhood where the franchise is located.
“In Doral they can add Venezuelan or Colombian empanadas,” Zambrana says. Their location in Westchester is predominantly Cubans and they plan to add guava tartlets and eclairs.
“Those are the sweets that I remember most from bakeries in Cuba,” says Zambrana, who came from the island in 2007 at the age of 15.
Díaz arrived in 1998, at the age of 11, and began working very early to help his mother. In 2014, he got his contractor’s license specializing in electrical systems and he started his own business.
This experience allowed them to open the bakery faster. They also lucked out because the previous owner of their location had already started remodeling the space. Even so, it took them nine months to get the bakery remodeled.
“We were here day and night, working since early morning,” says Díaz, who admits he “easily” saved $400,000 from his experience as a contractor. Even so, the most difficult thing is the permits, he points out.
Buying into a Miami institution
A few weeks after opening the business, they already have 13 employees, but Zambrana and Díaz continue to work from 5 in the morning to 8 at night. “We are really enjoying the contact with the public. Neighboring businesses and people from the neighborhood were waiting for us,” says Zambrana.
The process of opening was easier because they bought a franchise, they said. They didn’t have to start from scratch. Vicky Bakery has its main plant in Medley and distributes products to the stores from there.
“The advantage of having a Vicky Bakery is that everyone knows it, knows the quality of the product they sell,” says Zambrana.
“At first we didn’t have much information about the franchise, we didn’t know the money needed for the investment,” says Díaz, who approached Lola Hernández, who is in charge of franchises at Vicky Bakery.
They paid $35,000 for the franchise in May 2022 and now they have to maintain the standards that the company requires so they renew the franchise after five years.
“The process has been quite easy. They gave us extensive training. We can bake, decorate cakes. We are trained to make what we sell here,” says Zambrana, stating that now they train employees.
Address: 8290 Bird Rd., Miami