What began 50 years ago as an American dream has grown to a family-run business built on pastelitos and croquetas, among other classic Cuban baked goods.
Vicky Bakery opened in southeast Hialeah in 1972, at 860 SE 8th St.
Since then, the business has expanded and, with franchises too, grown throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
This year the company marks five decades as a key part of customers’ family celebrations: Cakes served at birthday parties and First Communions and weddings, as well as during midmorning Cafecito runs and for afternoon treats.
In 1995, Vicky Bakery expanded to Miami Lakes and in the Lake Patricia Shopping Center, opened its third store.
“We were excited to [grow beyond] Hialeah and Miami Lakes was a great opportunity,” said Amy Cao, 50, operating partner for Vicky Enterprises.
Cao is married to Pedro Cao, 57, operating partner for the firm. They live in Miami Lakes.
He is one of four children of the chain’s founders, Antonio and Gelasia Cao, who met and married in Cuba before arriving in Miami as political exiles.
The store in the Lake Patricia store shopping center is owned by the younger Caos and is as busy as ever.
During breakfast and lunch hours, a steady stream of boxes with the distinctive red logo are carried out the door.
“We have tried really hard to keep the recipes the same and to keep the standard high and the prices fair,” Cao said about what brings customers back.
While keeping to its traditions, the company has also created new treats: During the fall it sells pumpkin and cheese pastelitos. Another new item offered in some stores is vegan Cuban bread.
Cao said everybody loves croquetas, no matter their backgrounds.
“This year, 21 [stores] will be open,” Cao said. “We have Bird Road at Southwest 82nd Avenue and Coral Springs opening soon. Our store number 19 just opened in Homestead last month.”
During the next few years, the brand is planning to expand into West Palm Beach; Orlando; Tampa; Naples and Fort Myers.
Cao said the company has eager franchisees lined up and hopes to expand nationally.
Until then, homesick South Floridians can get Vicky Bakery’s guava pastries and other favorites delivered by mail, via Gold Belly or direct from the bakery’s website, with easy baking instructions.
For now, the focus is on celebrating a half-century in business, which the company marked on Oct. 9. That’s when Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid presented the couple with a proclamation declaring it was “Vicky Bakery Day.”
On Facebook, Cid called the Cao family “amazing people and they are always ready and willing to help their neighbors,” adding that his favorite treat is el pastel de coco (coconut pastry).
Cao says the family is thankful for the welcome and support from the town throughout the years.
“We’re blessed to know many, many families and are blessed to have been part of special occasions and everyday life,” Cao said.