It took two whole days of non-stop baking for Raquel Pasillas to have enough sweet treats to fill the cases for the July 30th grand opening of her new bakery in downtown Seymour.
In less than eight hours, everything was gone and Pasillas said she was worn out but satisfied and grateful for all those who have helped and supported her in achieving her dream.
With her daughter, Alexis Bustos, at her side, Pasillas is pursuing her passion, attracting more people to visit the downtown and bringing people of different backgrounds together, one pastry at a time.
Surprisingly, baking was never what Pasillas thought she would be doing.
She and her sister once ran a clothing store, Novedades Julia, together downtown on West Second Street.
“We just decided we needed to do different things,” Pasillas said. “So she went to school and I started, as a hobby, baking.”
Around eight years ago, she visited her sister-in-law, who owned a bakery in Mexico.
Pasillas said she was very impressed with the business and wanted to learn more.
So after the brief visit, Pasillas came home and practiced, learning the art of decorating cakes and perfecting her recipes.
“I said, ‘Let’s see if I can do it,’” she said. “I never thought I was going to be baking in my life, but I like it.”
She began making cakes for her friends, and soon lots of people were asking her to bake for them.
The building at 228 S. Chestnut St., where Raquel’s Bakery is located, was once Ken’s Shoe Repair business. Owned by Bill Gray, who runs the Integrity Mortgage office across the street, it was set to become the new site for The Alley Kitchen.
That project fell through because the space was not big enough to serve the 100 or so people The Alley Kitchen serves daily.
Gray already had the building renovated with a space for a kitchen in the back and said his dream was to open a pie shop there.
Pasillas, who has lived in Seymour for the past 13 years, found out about the building after donating some cupcakes for an event at St. Ambrose Church, which is just down the street from the building.
“My sister works there (St. Ambrose) and someone asked her, ‘Who did the cupcakes?’ and she said, ‘My sister did,’ and they asked why didn’t I open a bakery in Seymour.
The woman told Pasillas’ sister about Gray and the building he had downtown.
“I told my sister to get me his number,” Pasillas said. “And I came to talk to Mr. Bill, and he told me he’d let me know.”
After three days of waiting, Gray came back and told Pasillas if she wanted to rent the building to open her bakery, it was hers.
“He’s so happy, and said he would even give me extra space, because he thinks everything is going well,” she said. “He’s helping me a lot.”
The location is perfect, she said, because she gets customers from area businesses, the hospital and nearby churches and schools.
Pasillas said she has been overwhelmed by the support from the community.
“It’s been very good. I’m so surprised,” she said. “It’s more than what I was expecting. Sunday (July 30) was packed in here. I never thought it would be so successful.”
New customers are coming in every day, she added.
She credits social media and Seymour Main Street for helping her get the word out about the bakery.
“We are receiving a lot of support from the community, both the Anglo and the Hispanic community,” she said.
Her “signature” item is her trés leches cakes, which are vanilla or mocha sponge cake soaked in three different types of milk with filling in the middle such as peach, strawberries or bananas, and topped with fruit, whipped cream and pecans.
“All the Hispanic people ask for that cake,” she said.
Another traditional Hispanic dessert she makes is churros, which are fried dough filled with cream, caramel or strawberries.
“We are also doing some doughnuts, and they go pretty quick,” she said. “We can’t seem to get caught up on the doughnuts.”
Other offerings include fruit and cream pies, including strawberry, key lime and coconut, cookies, sweet rolls and breads, pastries and special-order cakes.
“And we are thinking of doing more when I have time,” she said.
There are tables and chairs and coffee for those looking to sit and enjoy their treat instead of taking it to go.
Raquel’s Bakery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Besides her daughter, Pasillas has a couple of other helpers, Maribel Aparicio and Natalia Garcia.
Although she enjoys being in the kitchen baking and decorating cakes, Pasillas said the best part of the business is the customers.
“I see the kids smiles and people say, ‘It’s good’ and they are happy, that makes me like, ‘Wow they like it,’ so I keep doing more and more,” she said.
228 S. Chestnut St., downtown Seymour
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays
Menu: Tres Leches cakes, churros, doughnuts, fruit and cream pies, cookies, sweet rolls and breads, pastries, special order custom cakes