FL Bakery & Restaurant opens 2nd location in Orlando
ORLANDO, FL — The FL Bakery & Restaurant, a family-owned food enterprise where Puerto Rico’s rich cuisine and vibrant culture converge, has opened its second location in Orlando, and with these additions, the family-owned company will have four bakeries and one distribution warehouse in Central Florida and seven bakeries in Puerto Rico.
The new 3,500 square-foot colorful facility is located at 1654 North Semoran Boulevard in Orlando. This location has 24 employees.
The location features Puerto Rico’s long history of diverse culinary traditions — a unique blend of African, Spanish, and Taíno Indian roots — which are palpable from the moment a customer walks in and is greeted by the bakery’s staff.
FL Bakery is the place for endless “frituras” (fritters), rice and beans, “cuerito” (pork belly), “mofongo,” Puerto Rican coffee and “pan sobao,” Puerto Rico’s popular sweet bread.
“In diversity is strength. There is Florida Bakery for a while. We’re going to fill Florida with this dream,” said Rafael Román, after cutting a loaf of ‘sobao’ bread, as a symbol of the official opening of the second location in Orlando.
There was also the traditional ribbon-cutting that drew government and private-sector officials from the area, including Ilia Torres, special assistant in the office of Jerry Demings, Mayor of Orange County, who delivered a Proclamation.
Attendees also included Orlando City Commissioner District 2 Tony Ortiz, representatives from the offices of Florida Senator Rick Scott, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO), among others.
José A. Curras, owner of Valisa Bakery Café, a well-known Puerto Rican bakery in Orlando, was a special guest during the event, as his former property is what became FL Bakery & Restaurant.
“I think it was destiny, God does things at the perfect time. My wife and I had talked about retiring in a year and one day this young man appeared,” he said, referring to Román, “whom we had known, and we had coffee, and he told me if you’re going to sell it one day, think of me.
After that conversation, he consulted with his wife and then they decided to speed up their retirement plans and sell it to Román and his wife, Kiara Delgado.
Currás said he was happy for two reasons. First, because the business passed into the hands of other Puerto Ricans, “because I believe that we Puerto Ricans come to Orlando to work, to make a name for ourselves, to make people feel that we Puerto Ricans can highlight our values, our work, our culture, through this type of business, which is a cultural business. After all, it carries our flavor, our ‘sobao’ bread, our Creole food, so I’m very pleased.”
“And second, because it is in good hands together with these hard-working and successful businessmen who are sure to continue to serve their clientele and new ones to come with care,” he said.
Marking a ‘milestone’
Meanwhile, Román said the FL Bakery Orlando location “represents a milestone” for the business.
“We’re grateful and incredibly fortunate to have the support of this amazing community. Central Florida welcomed us with open arms when we opened our first bakery and they are the reason we are celebrating today,” said Román.
“FL Bakery is a tribute to my beloved homeland’s cuisine, it is a place that celebrates the flavor, way of life, and those special moments that we all treasured in Puerto Rico,” he said. “Once visitors get a taste of FL Bakery, they always crave more.”
Roman opened the first FL Bakery & Restaurant, an 8,400 square-foot location, in Kissimmee on July 15, 2020. That location has 60 employees.
“We’ve seen a significant growth in both, the fresh retail business at our Kissimmee location and our wholesale distribution,” added Román. “To supply the ongoing demand, in June we opened a warehouse in Orlando of approximately 4,000 square feet. This new expansion brings new efficiencies to FL Bakery’s distribution capabilities and exemplifies our company’s commitment to the economic growth of Central Florida.”
Combined, the company creates some 300 direct and 400 indirect jobs. With the addition of the Lake Nona and Altamonte Springs bakeries, expected to open in 2023, the company’s estimated economic impact on Central Florida’s economy exceeds the $10 million mark, he said.
“We take our responsibility to lead FL Bakery & Restaurant into the future very seriously because we know that this company supports the livelihood of dozens of families,” said Román. “We’re committed to supporting the social and economic development of the communities where FL Bakery operates, and our employees live.”
As for Delgado, she said she is “very excited to continue growing and becoming stronger in the area.”
“This was not in the plans. We received the call from José, and we decided to do it. We thought that Lake Nona was going to be the next location and no, it was here in Orlando, and in three to four months we are already open,” she said.
FL Bakery & Restaurant distributes its signature “pan sobao,” and traditional Puerto Rican pastries to dozens of coffee shops and restaurants in the Orlando area.