Enrique Jimenez used to work day and night making baked goods in a small oven at home. His wife, Maria, delivered them house to house to customers who became accustomed to seeing her car driving down the streets of South Waco.
Now, Jimenez and brothers Santiago and Jose own and operate Jimenez Bakery at 1915 Dutton Ave. It has become so popular “that you can’t even think about getting a parking spot after 6 o’clock at night,” regular customer Claudia Monroy said.
Monroy visited the business about noon one day this week, but not to buy a cake or empanada.
She was enjoying a gordita in the restaurant that is housed in the same building as Jimenez Bakery.
The sweet shop recently took over the space formerly occupied by Rincon Mexican Restaurant to serve traditional Mexican fare.
“It’s delicious,” said Monroy, 40, of the barbacoa-filled treat she was eating with rice and beans.
Luis Jimenez, 23, who translates for his primarily Spanish-speaking family, said, “We’re getting there,” when asked about the popularity of the restaurant.
It does not yet generate the following of the bakery, but Jimenez said it may in time.
He said the eatery serves menudo, which not all Mexican establishments provide, and sells tamales in bulk on weekends.
Walking into Jimenez Bakery is a step into Mexican culture and tradition, where Spanish is the dominant language on product signs and in the conversation of customers and employees.
A bountiful supply of Mexican pastries, cookies, cakes and sweet bread beckons from behind glass display cases.
Refrigerators provide a haven for Mexican sodas, flan and other cool desserts.
Just around the corner, a visitor could see employees spreading dough in preparation for resupplying the shelves laden with goodies.
“Some arrive at 4 o’clock in the morning, others at 10 a.m.,” said Santiago Jimenez, 43, discussing the staff schedule.
He said cakes are the product most in demand at Jimenez Bakery, with Luis Jimenez adding that the shop makes up to 60 per week. Most sell for $25, $35 or $75, but the more elaborate creations can fetch $150 to $700.
Customers order cakes to celebrate weddings, birthdays, graduations and quinceañeras.
Emilio Moreno, 31, and his daughter Maria, 8, visited the bakery Thursday morning, and Maria eagerly eyed the sweets on display, pointing out the ones she wanted to sample. The Morenos, from Louisiana, are visiting family in Waco.
“We drove by a couple of times, and decided to take a look,” said Maria with a big smile.
Luis Jimenez said most customers live in the immediate neighborhood and speak Spanish. A graduate of A.J. Moore Academy, he often serves as translator when the family needs to conduct business with individuals who speak English.
He said the shop is open 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily, including most holidays.
“I want to follow in my father’s footsteps, and he tells me I will never accomplish anything if I don’t work hard,” said Luis, who said he spends about 60 hours a week at the bakery while also waiting tables at La Tapatia’s in Robinson.
“I get to the bakery very early in the morning, work until 10 or 11, then go to my next job,” Luis said.
He has five brothers, ages 3 to 19, and those old enough to work occasionally lend a hand at the family business, which buzzes with customers on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, early in the morning and late evenings.
Santiago Jimenez said the family may pursue a second location, possibly in a community outside Waco.
Maria Jimenez, who once delivered the baked goods around South Waco, has opened a business of her own at 2726 N. 25th St. called Dulceria Esquivel. She sells piñatas and Mexican candy and would like to begin renting out inflatables.