Editor’s Note: This story is part of the annual Mosaic Journalism Workshop An intensive two-week course in journalism, for Bay Area high school students. Students involved 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 found more success than he ever imagined, and he’s also looking to expand.
Landin, the owner of Mexico Bakery on Story Road in East San Jose plus two other stores, said efforts were made to comply with the COVID safety guidelines they paid for. “Most of the restaurants around us were closed,” he said in Spanish. But his bakery remained open and attracted more customers.
“The families had to get food for their children,” said Landin, 50. “Children don’t want salad, they want bread.”
Landin’s father, Melchior Landin Ramirez, founded Story Road Bakery in 2000, and the Landin family worked on expanding the business. The family now also operates a Mexico Bakery on Ellum Rock Avenue and another downtown on East Santa Clara Street. Young Landin hopes to open a quarter in Hollister, but that plan continues as COVID-19 surges.
Although the pandemic brought good news for business, the Landin family suffered personally. All of Jose Landin’s siblings contracted COVID about eight months ago, and his father also became infected. Melchior died of the disease in December at the age of 79.
Another challenge for young Landin came during a Black Lives Matter protest in San Jose last summer. “We got worried about our bakery,” said Landin, who supports the BLM movement. They decided to close their downtown location for six months.
But luckily, “none of our properties were vandalized,” he said.
In the meantime, his customers continue to enjoy his bakery’s pastries and sandwiches.
“The bread is too soft,” said 10-year-old Angela Perez, who was eating her paan on her way back from Story Road Bakery.
Another client, Cassandra Diaz, brings her family to the Story Road location. “The sandwiches are delicious and have a lot of spices,” she said.
As Landin plans for the future, he has the next generation in mind. He hopes to eventually pass the bakery on to his three children.
“Working as part of a bakery is art,” he said. “It’s a culture for me to be a part of.”
Dayanara Diaz is a rising junior at Prep El Primero High School in downtown San Jose.