At Vavô’s Bakery Bristol’s Portuguese culture blends with Italian favorites
When Louis and Erica Pacheco opened Vavô’s Bakery in December, they anticipated it would take time for the new bakery to catch on. Erica, a stay-at-home mom for the past 12 years had no bakery experience. Louis’ father, Luis, an experienced baker who was retired was brought into the business to bake a variety of breads, calzones and pizzas.
“My husband ‘thought’ because we had nothing to do, we could start a bakery,” Ms. Pacheco said.
After looking at places around Bristol, they settled on the former Bristol Bakery.
“We were going to go on Wood Street but the building needed a lot of money to fix up. Everything was here,” she said of the set up. “Problem solved.”
The family spent two and one-half months cleaning the bakery and getting it ready for their new venture.
Luis’s expertise in baking breads filled the shelves with half dozen varieties right away. Although the Pacheco’s consider it to be a Portuguese bakery, they offer fresh baked Italian bread and for St. Joseph’s Day, zeppoles were a must.
“We’d throw away 36 cups of sugar and 52 cups of milk a day before we got (the recipe) right,” she said.
The store sold over 300 on St. Joseph’s Day.
The products quickly grew to a huge selection of calzones, with a Portuguese twist. Golden dough covers fillings such as buffalo chicken, blade meat, chourico and cheese, steak and cheese and a spicy Cacoila filling, one of the most popular, according to Ms. Pacheco.
“A flock of Portuguese working men come in at lunch time saying ‘where is it’,” she said. “I would not skimp on the quality of our foods. When you take a bite you get food, not just bread.”
Even the name of the bakery reflects Bristol’s Portuguese culture. Vavô, Portuguese for grandfather, is out of respect for Luis who arrives every day from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to make sure the shelves are ready with fresh baked goods for the day.
“We’re in little Portugal. How can we not go with Vavô,” Ms. Pacheco said.
Only three months into the business, they are looking to add fresh made sandwiches and fresh fruits to their list of items. Breads can be special ordered with fillings, if desired.
“Anything you can think of, we’ll stuff it – chourico, cheese,” she said.
The bakery business has so far been a pleasant experience for the Pacheco’s including their children, Madison, 12, L.J., 6, and Maddox, 4, who help out after school.
“I love it here. The same people come in and I know what they want, we see new faces every day. It’s not construction,” she said of her husband’s other career. “It’s baking.”
Vavô’s Bakery is located at 87 Gooding Ave. in Bristol.