After losing many family members to COVID-19, Bronx bakery Emilio Super Bakery Corp and owner Guadalupe Pita has not only survived the pandemic but helped feed the community as well.
Pita, 38, who operates the eatery in Morrisania with her husband Hugo, told the Bronx Times this has been the hardest year as proprietors.
“We were scared,” she recalled. “We didn’t want to get COVID-19.”
Shuttered from March until May and forced to furlough employees, things were dire. But, they persevered, as running a business is in her blood.
Pita’s father worked for over 20 years for a Manhattan deli before being laid off. He later opened his own restaurant “Tulcingo” and operated it for several years before his death.
“When he passed away I said let me keep up with his dream,” she commented.
Seven years ago she and her husband opened the bakery at 6A East Clarke Place, in the same community they live. Before the pandemic, it was a popular place that people flocked to all of the time.
From May to September business was brutal and the couple wasn’t able to pay rent or bills. Yet, they stayed afloat. Their landlord was accommodating and knew some of their family died from the coronavirus.
“Our landlord told us we should stay open and give it a try,” she explained. “It was a lot of work. It was overwhelming.”
With five kids at home, closing the bakery wasn’t an option. They worked nearly 90 hours a week and learned how to make Mexican sweet bread, flan, cheesecake, bread pudding and muffins.
In December their fortunes changed when the eatery was the recipient of a $10,000 small business relief grant from their partnership with LISC NYC. This helped them not only survive the pandemic but allowed them to donate more than 100,000 meals to people in the south Bronx and bring back their staff.
“They try to pay us,” she explained. “I tell them if you need breakfast anytime just give us a call. We saw so many people without jobs. We were very concerned.”
Business has picked up slowly since hybrid learning began in the fall and Pita hopes as more people get vaccinated that things will soon return to normalcy.
Through all of the darkness of the past year, it was her children who kept her focused.
“I try to keep calm and motivate them (her kids),” she said. “I know they’re scared because they saw so many family members and friends dying.”
While the employees are only working a few days a week, Pita sees positive things on the horizon. She stressed how grateful she is to LISC NYC and knows that without their financial boost the bakery may be closed.
In the future, she hopes to expand their business and one day open “Tulcingo” in the memory of her father.
“We know it’s not better yet, but we’re getting there,” she stated.