Two couples originally from Uruguay and Argentina have brought some of the flavors of their home countries to Cleveland with their business Imperial Bakery and Café. They offer pastries, cakes, …
Two couples originally from Uruguay and Argentina have brought some of the flavors of their home countries to Cleveland with their business Imperial Bakery and Café.
They offer pastries, cakes, cookies and lunch items such as sandwiches and empanadas from their location in the Colony Square shopping center at 2522 Keith St. N.W., Suite 4.
“We thought we would bring something new to Cleveland,” said co-owner Carolina Gomez. “We have some things that are not common here, and our customers all say it’s different than what they’re used to.”
Gomez and her husband, Victor Alderete, operate the business with friends Gerardo and Claudia Albornoz. The four friends met in Miami before making separate moves to Cleveland and later reuniting to launch the business together.
Imperial Bakery and Café opened in 2015, initially specializing in Argentinian fare. However, the menu has since evolved to also include specialties popular in Uruguay.
“You get a mix here,” said Alderete. “You have two different countries represented, and there is a lot for people to try.”
The bakery and café’s most popular items include facturas, flaky pastries with a variety of toppings, and empanadas, pie-like pastries with meat, cheese and other fillings.
Also popular are the bakery’s cakes, which include options such as tres leches and milhojas which likely will not be found in a typical U.S. bakery.
The shop also offers a variety of coffee beverages and has a sitting area which could make it a good spot for a quick snack or meal.
Gomez admitted it was a bit difficult at first to get some Cleveland customers used to the idea of trying the business’ South American specialties.
“We had people come in, look around and walk out when they realized we didn’t have their normal doughnuts or bagels or whatever,” she said with a laugh. “We would encourage people to try something different, and many have liked it.”
Gomez noted that owning a small business can be challenging, but she says she and the other owners feel fortunate to make Cleveland their location.
That realization actually came before the business even opened. Gomez and Alderete and their family received a warm welcome from the Cleveland community after evacuating due to a hurricane which hit Florida in 2004.
At the time, they had a 2-month-old baby, and none of the storm shelters they encountered would allow babies that young to stay. They packed themselves into a car and drove north, trying unsuccessfully to find hotel vacancies.
They eventually wound up in Cleveland, where they were able to stay with friends. Gomez recalls total strangers approaching them after seeing the Florida license plate on their car and asking how they could help. The kindness they experienced made them realize this city “would be a good place to raise kids.”
“That is how we fell in love from Cleveland,” Gomez said. “We are continually impressed by how people accept us, and now our business.”
The business owners say they have enjoyed getting to know the local community and are eager to share some of the unique food items popular in their native continent.
Imperial Bakery and Café is open Monday-Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 423-478-8759 or visit www.facebook.com/imperialbakerycafe.
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