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Baking a New Story on Broadway

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Thursday, March 06, 2008, at 12:46PM
L.A. Bakery Ed Fuentes

Lupe Martinez stands inside L.A. Gourmet Bakery, located at 548 S. Broadway.

From fresh Mexican bread at Grand Central Market to apple pie at Clifton's, Broadway has long been a spot for picking up something baked. In between the two sits a new spot that brings a different aesthetic to a street that's seldom known for understated design.

Rafael and Lupe Martinez opened L.A. Gourmet Bakery in July of 2007 after 18 months of preparation and cutting through red tape. The 2400 square foot space includes a large, clean and airy place and a kitchen that has warm sugary smells wafting in. It was well worth the wait, says Lupe, who has 20 years of experience in baking. The husband and wife team are from Guanajuato, Mexico, where they previously owned a bakery before briefly working in the jewelry industry.

Rafael runs the business end of the bakery, while Lupe is the baker and cake designer, making fresh pastries daily. Both put in long hours, from 4am to 8pm, and business has been growing.

Cakes. The debate over Broadway revitalization frequently includes the claim that Latino-based businesses will be pushed off a street that they have served for decades. Rafael and Lupe don't see it that way.

The bakery reflects neighborhood goals of attractive ground floor retail, without compromising ethnic influences. "We have some (Latino) shop owners come in, and suggest we fill the walls with signs," she says. Instead, the high walls are painted white, and highlighted by carefully chosen posters. "It helps our store stands out from the others," she beams.

It's the pastries that bring people back, as lofties were seen coming while I was there, all part of a loyal following Downtown. Lupe credits her old oven for baking the best cakes. "We had to talk the Health inspectors into letting us keep it," she notes.

LA Bakery (inc) One specialty is the fruit cocktail dulce de leche cake ($17.95), which has fruit between 3 layers, topped with fresh fruit. It is definitely worth a try.

Despite a modest sign, the bakery shouldn't be hard to find. Just look for the large cakes and the bright white walls.

L.A. Gourmet Bakery / 548 South Broadway / Downtown

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