Celebrate El Salvador – visit El Guanaco Bakery on East 7th Street

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There was once a time when neighborhoods all had local bakeries. In the 1980s, Dayton’s Bluff had three and then slowly they all disappeared. But about five years ago, the aroma of baking bread and pastries returned to East 7th Street.

That’s because Oscar Murcia and his family came to Minnesota from their home in El Salvador. He had a background in the food industry, managing a restaurant and starting a bakery in the land of his birth.

Like many immigrants, they came to this country for the chance to better their economic conditions. For a time Oscar did of a variety of jobs, including working at McDonald’s and being a chef at a nursing home. But his goal was always to eventually own a business of his own. Five years ago, the family made the move and opened their doors at 849 East 7th Street. They decided to name their venture El Guanaco Bakery and Café because this is a nickname for Salvadorians.

The business has been successful even though sometimes the sales have been lower than hoped. According to Oscar, “things are pretty slow in the summer.” He is glad they do a lot of wholesaling of breads and pastries to local Latino groceries because they make more from that than from the walk-in trade.

Much of the work is done by Oscar, his wife Margarita and their two daughters, Kesia and Jennifer, who are both going to Inver Hills Community College and majoring in business. The girls explained how the family started baking out of their home and soon they needed more room to accommodate the business. They looked around for a good location and chose Dayton’s Bluff because of the large Latino population.

For those of you who are not familiar with the cuisine of El Salvador, here are some items. One of the best sellers at the store are quesadillas, something people also find at Mexican restaurants. The ones Oscar and his family make taste different because they don’t have any meat and are corn rather than flour based.

They also have the very popular pupusas, a traditional Salvadorian treat. They are sort of like tortillas that are stuffed with either meat, beans or cheese in different combinations and cooked on a sort of grill. There is a showcase full of cookies, pastries and both European and traditional sweet breads. They can also make fancy wedding cakes.

If you wish there were a place in the neighborhood to go for frosty treats, you need look no further. Ice cream and sorbets are now available. There are also special Salvadorian tamales that are made every Saturday.

The Murcias will also cater for parties, business meetings and other events. You can set something up by dropping by or calling 651-776-3320. It’s well worth visiting El Guanaco if you haven’t already been there. And a good time might be on September 15 because it is, after all, El Salvador’s Independence Day. If you show up, you will be able to share in some free cake frosted in white and blue, the colors of the flag of El Salvador.

History of Salvadoran Independence

El Salvador (in Spanish, Republica de El Salvador) means Republic of The Savior. It is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America, bordering on the Pacific Ocean between Guatemala and Honduras. San Salvador is both the largest city and the capital of this nation of over six million people. They are usually referred to as Salvadoran or Salvadorian.

El Salvador, along with the other countries of Central America, declared its independence from Spanish rule on Sept. 15, 1821. The country celebrates the day with a variety of events that are organized by public and private schools as well as government institutions.

Parades and band performances and dancing are seen throughout the day. Lots of traditional food is prepared. And, like our country’s Fourth of July events, at the end of the day, fireworks light up the skies in El Salvador.