Breaking bread strengthens a community: The Village Bakery & Deli opens in Tynan Village – The Californian

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Around 7 a.m. almost daily, Anthony Henderson comes to the Village Bakery and Deli with his daughter. 

“My daughter Veronica always gets a danish before her school bus picks her up.” he said.

Henderson has lived in the Tynan Village apartment complex for six years with his daughter and wife. In November, the Village Bakery and Deli opened at the bottom of the apartment complex, located at East Alisal and Front streets.

Now, residents like Henderson have made the bakery and deli part of their daily routine. 

“They’ve done a good job opening this store here because the community within Tynan Village has come closer together now that bakery is here,” said Henderson. “We’re seeing more people coming out of their homes,”

Yet until recently, the large retail space at the bottom of the low-income housing had been vacant for nearly a decade. The Village Bakery and Deli is the first of new businesses expected to fill space there by the end of next year, and residents like Henderson are already seeing benefits. City officials hope the additions will provide a positive ripple effect in the neighborhood.

“The community within Tynan Village is coming out and meeting one another,” Henderson said. “We’re seeing people that we haven’t seen around in our time living here. This is what it took for us to start meeting each other.”

Family matters

Salinas residents may already know the family who owns The Village Bakery and Deli; Jose Chavez’s family used to own Sanborn Plaza Bakery and still operates La Mariposa Bakery in North Salinas.

For the Chavez family and employees, La Mariposa Bakery and The Village are more than a business. They say their focus is to provide high quality food and a family environment for all of their customers. 

Jose, who immigrated to the U.S. as a child with the Bracero Program, opened the bakery with his wife Guadalupe Chavez. Jose had worked in agriculture for 27 years before opening his first bakery with his brother in 1995. 

“The best part of having the bakeries is being united,” said Guadalupe. “It’s bringing both of my daughters together and making them learn what’s necessary so they could one day run the business on their own.”

Their daughters, Janet and Carina Chavez, are the part of the operation. 

Janet manages day-to-day operations at La Mariposa Bakery while Carina, former deputy district director to local Congressman Jimmy Panetta, will be in charge of leading the staff at The Village. 

The family bakery offers a wide selection of food and beverages including flautas, champurrado, canela, oatmeal, cappuccino, coffee and of course, pan dulce.

“We speak to our customers on what they would like to see in the bakery… Sometimes we have seasonal products just for the seasons. As the seasons change, so do the customer needs change,” Janet said.

Filling a need

Before the construction of apartments and retail spaces in 2008, only a lumber yard existed on the lot. Thanks to state funding and local funding, the Tynan Village apartments were built to serve low-income residents of Salinas. 

Yet, for many years the Tynan apartment complex has struggle to fill the 13,000-square-foot unfinished retail space on the site’s ground floor. 

“For years we have found that there hasn’t been a tenant willing to move in at what was being charged for rent,” said Salinas Councilmember Steve McShane whose district includes Tynan Village.

The El Pajaro Community Development Corporation worked alongside the City of Salinas and Monterey County Housing Development Corporation to help Jose Chavez open the bakery.

Vinicio Vides, a business consultant for the EL Pajaro CDC, had already helped the Chavez family for years, including when he opened his first business in Salinas 15 years ago, Vides said. 

The El Pajaro CDC’s “mission is to promote equal access to economic opportunity and to transform people’s lives through entrepreneurship,To fulfill this important mission, El Pájaro CDC helps entrepreneurs by taking the confusion, guesswork and complexity out of starting their own small businesses,” according to its site. 

The Monterey County Housing Development Corporation developed Tynan Village.

“We welcome Mr. Chavez and encourage his expansion to new markets,” said Starla Warren, HDC president.

And city officials hope additions like the bakery will strengthen the neighborhood.

“Strong neighborhoods are the best defense against crime,” said McShane. 

The city has tried “to facilitate that through mixed use between housing and retail,” for years, he said.  “I really hope we can achieve that with Tynan Village.”

The Village is the first commercial business at the Tynan housing development. At the end of 2020, the City of Salinas, Pajaro CDC, and the Housing Development Corporation hope to have three more businesses move in to the other empty retail spots next to the Village. They declined to disclose what those businesses will be.

Takes a village

The bakery has united not only the Chavez family but the community within The Tynan Village apartments.

“There’s a lot of people that come to the bakery that come take photos of the bread, some just sit down and talk, and others actually sit down and eat,” said Stefania Reyes one of the managers at the Village Bakery & Deli.

A reliable staff has been key to the success that the Chavez family has had for the past 23 years, they said.

“I really love working with my employees. I love helping out my customers. They are what make us stronger,” said Janet.

Even the location of The Village lends itself to serving the local community. Nestled under the Tyson Village apartments, the Chavez family enjoys plenty of foot traffic for their business.

“I just love being around people. Being able to interact and help people from the community is my favorite part of running the bakery,” said Janet. 

The Village Bakery opened its doors on Nov.13, at 303 Front Street, and is aiming for a late December to early January grand opening. It’s open seven days a week, from 5 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily. They can be reached for questions or orders at (831) 442-1955.

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David Rodriguez is a multimedia journalist for The Californian. Contact him at (831) 269-9363 or [email protected] Subscribe to support local journalism.

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