Editor’s note: This story is part of the annual Mosaic Journalism Workshop for Bay Area high school students, a two-week intensive course in journalism. Students in the program report and photograph real stories under the guidance of professional journalists.
As businesses around him struggled during the pandemic, Jose Landin’s three bakeries gained more success than he could have ever imagined, and he’s even thinking of expanding now.
Landin, owner of Mexico Bakery on Story Road in East San Jose plus two other shops, said the effort to comply with COVID safety guidelines paid off for him. “Most restaurants around us were closed,” he said in Spanish. But his bakeries stayed open and drew more customers.
“Families had to get food for their kids,” said Landin, 50. “Kids don’t want salads, they want bread.”
Landin’s father, Melchior Landin Ramirez, founded the Story Road bakery in 2000, and the Landin family worked on expanding the business. The family now also operates a Mexico Bakery on Alum Rock Avenue and another downtown on East Santa Clara Street. The younger Landin hopes to open a fourth in Hollister, but that plan is on hold as COVID-19 surges.
Although the pandemic brought good news for the business, the Landin family suffered personally. All of Jose Landin’s siblings contracted COVID about eight months ago, and his dad became infected as well. Melchoir died of the disease in December at age 79.
Another challenge for the younger Landin came last summer, during the Black Lives Matter protests in San Jose. “We got worried about our bakery,” said Landin, who supports the BLM movement. He decided to close his downtown location for six months.
But fortunately, “none of our property got vandalized,” he said.
Meanwhile, his customers continue to enjoy his bakeries’ pastries and sandwiches.
“The bread is so soft,” said 10-year-old Angela Perez, who was eating her pan dulce on her way back from the Story Road bakery.
Another customer, Kassandra Diaz, brings her family to the Story Road location. “The sandwiches are so yummy and have plenty of condiments in them,” she said.
As Landin plans for the future, he has the next generation in mind. He hopes to pass the bakeries down to his three kids eventually.
“Working as part of a bakery is art,” he said. “It’s a culture for me to be a part of this.”
Dayanara Diaz is a rising junior at Downtown College Prep El Primero High School in San Jose.