Following in his father’s footsteps as a baker, and at the age of 23, Armando Leyva and his wife Lorely, started their own bakery business. Still a novice to the bakery world, Armando leaned on his father’s many years of experience as a bread master and, much to his surprise, realized the bakery was much more than just bread. Soon he and his wife would discover the many talents needed to operate a successful business. There was much to learn.
The business’s staple, bread, was the start then pastries and desserts came next. Finally, special occasion cakes and the personalized decorations that came with it rounded out the core products they so willingly shared with their customers.
The neighborhood bakery, named La Gran Via Bakery, became the place to be when in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn NY.
Fast forward 39 years and the business is now operated by the next generation of Leyvas, Royd and Betsy.
During a trip last month to Brooklyn, my hometown, my wife suggested we stop off at her “favorite Spanish bakery” to get some treats not available in my neighborhood. How could I resist?
As we entered the store my senses were quickly met with the aroma of fresh pastry, chocolate and strong coffee. Then a friendly voice came from behind the counter, “That’s ok, that’s ok, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that”.
As I turned around I saw Royd, a 3rd generation baker, greeting us with a big welcoming smile. You see, as my wife and I entered the store I had mentioned to her that the highly decorated cakes in the shop window reminded me of another bakery that I used to frequent many years ago. Since it is considered his competition Royd was well aware of the bakery.
But, being a gentleman, he refused to speak ill of the other bakery; on the contrary, he spoke with high praise. This usually only comes from someone that is confident in his company’s abilities, product quality and good standing with their customers.
Royd has reason to be proud.
The store was full, with many patrons smiling, tasting and looking for the next treat to purchase.
For the next few minutes, Royd, my wife and I entered into the type of conversation usually reserved only for good friends. We spoke about our favorite pastries, the memories of good food and recipes handed down from family.
Like a proud papa, he patiently introduced his products as he described their ingredients and flavors; we were quickly getting hungry. I guess that why we already had a few boxes of items ready for checkout.
“Have you had our pastelitos?” Royd asked. My wife’s ears perked up, now she was smiling – she loved them. Before I could even say “no I haven’t”, Royd presented us with 2 samples of his famous pastelitos with guava. Fresh and delicious doesn’t do them justice.
There goes another box ready for checkout!
Great local businesses are dependent on the “neighborhood feel” and how the employees and owners interact with their friends. I call them friends because of how the customers are treated.
Like friends around a large holiday dinner table, good food and good stories are shared while still being able to “conduct business”. “How’s your Mom”, “I love your haircut”, “Hey, congratulations, I heard you got a new job”. This is how friends speak, not customers.
Here’s a few questions for you…
- How much personality do you show in your customer interactions?
- Are you interested in them or their money?
- Do you believe your high quality products are enough to keep customers coming back?
- Do you hold your attention on your customer and anticipate their needs, wants and desires? Or do you wait for them to ask?
Does La Gran Via Bakery use any special tactics, not found anywhere else, to attract their clientele? No, not really. Great products can be had in many locations. But…It’s the way you are made to feel that keeps customers coming back. Click To Tweet
Genuine is the word that springs to mind.
Appreciation for your business is another.
Making you feel special, priceless.
This next generation of bakers proudly carries on the storied tradition of their parents by building upon friendly service and great products.
No wonder why, after 39 years, they’re still giving great service…and pretty good pastries too!
Visit our favorite bakery in Brooklyn, and when you do, say hi to Royd and Betsy for me!
La Gran Via Bakery
Address: 4516 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220
Phone: (718) 853-8021
Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia