BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — In the Rio Grande Valley, having cafecito and pan (coffee and sweet bread) every morning is a staple in Hispanic culture.

South Texas is home to countless panaderias or bakeries, and De Ayala Bakery in Brownsville has had a close relationship with the community for over 20 years.

“There’s pretty much fresh bread all throughout the day, so anytime you come in, you will find fresh bread,” said owner Ricardo Ayala.

De Ayala Bakery has always been known for doing things the hard way when it comes to baking fresh pan dulce. The bakery opened back in 1999. Ayala said baking, which runs in his family, is a special skill to have.

“My dad had started his business back in 1988-89, so I started in 1999. So it’s been in the family business for quite a while,” Ayala said.

Every morning, Ayala, along with his employees, comes in early, working up to 12 hours to make everything by hand.

“It takes quite a while to mix the dough, prepare the dough and then bake it,” Ayala said. “Then you still have to sugar it or if you have to ice it, so there are hours before you have the end product.” 

Once the end product is made, De Ayala Bakery takes pride in doing it the old-fashioned way.

“It’s a custom from Mexico. I mean, you have sweet bread in the morning with coffee and la merienda for the evening,” Ayala said. “It’s just Mexican culture that is very popular here since we are so close to the border.”

But besides taking pride in baking, it is the relationship with customers that has kept the business alive.

“They get to tell you a lot of their stories. You hear them out and you try to support everything they do. They support us as well,” Ayala said.