One of the best parts of moving back to Milwaukee is getting to know the city again. Admittedly, it’s a strange time to be getting reacquainted with old favorites and discovering new developments, but more than ever, it’s the small businesses next door that need our support. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were over 452,000 small businesses in Wisconsin in 2019 and firms with fewer than 100 employees have the largest share of small business employment. These businesses strengthen our communities and reflect the character and culture of those that call Milwaukee home, important contributions to this diverse city.
With that in mind, I’m excited to be starting a new series on the blog – Small Business Spotlight.
Up first is a staple of Milwaukee’s South Side for almost 50 years: Lopez Bakery and Restaurant.
The family owned Lopez Bakery and Restaurant has been located at its current location at 1100 W. Historic Mitchell Street since 1999, but the Lopez family has been in the Milwaukee bakery business since 1973. The current owners, Jorge and Cindy Lopez, have been running this vibrant, corner bakery since 2012. Each of the Friday and Saturday mornings that I’ve stopped by, I’ve been greeted with a friendly smile and a display case full of gorgeous baked goods.
If you’re wondering what to order at the bakery, Jorge Lopez says that the marranitos, campechana de queso, and empanadas de calabasas are a few favorites. According to Lopez, customers swear by the Gordo’s special, chimichangas, moyete sandwiches, enchiladas, and tortas (Americanista) when in search of a full meal.
You won’t just find their fresh food at the Mitchell Street bakery and restaurant. From May through October, Lopez Bakery and Restaurant has a booth at the South Shore, Fox Point, Brookfield, Greendale, Greenfield, Menomonee Falls, and South Milwaukee farmers’ markets. From November through March, find them at the winter market at the Mitchell Park Domes.
My personal favorites have been the conchas, Charleston coconut cake, polvorones (commonly referred to as Mexican Wedding Cakes), and hojarascas (shortbread cinnamon, sugar cookies). Conchas, made from a soft and sweet bread that has a crunchy, colorful topping, get their name from the Spanish word for shell which makes sense considering they resemble the surface of a seashell. White is the classic color of the topping, but pink, yellow, or brown are also common.
In celebration of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st, you can find beautifully decorated sugar skull cookies and fresh pan de muerto in the bakery this weekend.
In addition to being delicious, all their bakery and menu items are very reasonably priced. You can find the full restaurant menu on their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram for updates and mouth-watering images of their fresh pan dulce, tamales and guacamole. Then stop in to see the spread for yourself! If you’re still looking for a reason to visit, Jorge highlighted that customers can as always call ahead to the bakery to get fresh from the steamer tamales.
A big thank you to Jorge Lopez for his support in confirming details for this post!