Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and to celebrate, WMBD visited one Mexican bakery that brings a little slice of the country right to Peoria.
“To me, this is that little slice of Mexico here in my neighborhood,” said Andres Diaz, a frequent Panaderia Ortiz customer.
Those who walk in are immediately hit by the scent of sweet bread in the oven. When people walk up to order, a sheet of pastries is wheeled to the middle of the restaurant for people to purchase. That’s how people know they’re at Panaderia Ortiz.
Diaz said, “The fact that you can walk in here and it’s fresh out of the oven and have a cup of coffee and do some work or meet with friends is a great thing.”
It’s a place where Peoria and Mexico intertwine, right on Monroe Street.
“If you were in Mexico, you would walk into a panaderia, or a bakery,” said Diaz, “And this is exactly what you’d see, this is how you’d feel.”
Bakery owner Bernardo Ortiz started the business ten years ago because there was nothing like it in Peoria.
“I got a sister over here, and I stopped by one time, and I didn’t see anything Mexican, you know?” Ortiz explained. “So my dad told me, why don’t you do something? Open a little business right here. And that’s what I did.”
Mexican pastries, cakes, coffee, tamales, and soups: those who crave Mexican food can find it at the bakery.
“I feel very, very good because the customers said they can’t find any traditional Mexican food,” said Ortiz. “So they come all the time and they tell me: ‘Thank you for that.’ So, yeah, I feel awesome.”
Having a bakery like the panaderia in Peoria is making the Latino community proud.
Diaz said when somebody whose Latino comes into town and doesn’t know the area, the panaderia is the perfect place to bring them.
“I love the fact that Latinos are making a difference in our community,” he said. “Whether everyone in Peoria knows it or not, there’s investment happening in the community by some of our Latino friends that go unnoticed.”