La Escondida: A hidden-gem bakery in Silverthorne
April 17, 2018
In Silverthorne, Panaderia La Escondida sits off the beaten path, tucked far away from the heavy traffic of Blue River Parkway, but that hasn't kept locals from repeatedly finding the small eatery that specializes in Mexican-style baked goods since it opened in town last fall.
The bakery produces everything from pastries, muffins, dessert empanadas, full loaves of bread and French rolls to about six-dozen other menu items crafted with an authentic Mexican style and recipes.
The bakery resides at 252 Warren Ave., inside the same shopping complex as the ReSaddled Thrift Store. Nobody would say it's a high-visibility locale, and aside from a small sign over the door and the unmistakable sweet smells wafting outside the aging complex, there's little evidence a bakery even exists there.
"That's why we call it 'escondida,' because we're hiding," said Kevin Pelen, who started the business about three years ago in Dillon with his partner, Alberto Galvan.
“That’s why we call it ‘escondida,’ because we’re hiding. That’s what ‘Panaderia La Escondida’ means. The hidden bakery. ”Kevin PelenOwner of Panaderia La Escondida
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"That's what 'Panaderia La Escondida' means," Pelen continued, "the hidden bakery."
Lucky for the owners, they had a strong following from when the bakery operated at the Tacos Tequila restaurant in Dillon. GPS devices, Google Maps and Facebook have all helped get word out, but the bakery remains hard to find for anyone who doesn't already know it's there.
Pelen emigrated from Guatemala to the U.S. in 2003 after visiting the country a few times as a child. He was 16 years old when he moved, and less than a decade later, after earning his U.S. citizenship at age 18, Pelen opened Tacos Tequila with a different business partner.
Galvan started working for Pelen in Dillon, and there they built a close friendship that sparked the 50/50 partnership that turned into Panaderia La Escondida.
The Tacos Tequila restaurant remains alive and well, but the bakery quickly outgrew the space and needed more room, Pelen said, recalling that realization led the owners to seek out a new space, which they found in Silverthorne and opened last October.
With seven months under their bakers hats in Silverthorne, business has boomed, Pelen said, crediting much of the success to carried-over business traffic from Dillon, quality baked goods and low prices.
In fact, the most expensive baked items at La Escondida — the bread cakes or French rolls loaded with jalapeno cream cheese — sell for just $2 each. Most other items are half that, and as a result, many people exit the eatery with boxes in arm.
"They leave with plenty enough to feed a family," Pelen said, adding that everything they make at the bakery is prepared fresh daily.
To produce these delicacies, the bakery enlists over 20 different types of flour and can run through as much as 20 50-pound sacks a week, according to the owners. Most of the bakery's customers are Hispanic, Pelen said, but he's also noticed an uptick in non-Spanish speaking regulars.
One customer who randomly stopped in Tuesday morning had nothing but nice things to say — entirely in English — about the bakery and the men who run it.
Dianne Jackson has lived in Summit County for 20 years and works in the thrift store that shares space in the same complex as the bakery. Needless to say, she has become a regular at Panaderia La Esconida, where she's better known as "Grammy Dianne."
"Well, let me put it this way," she said as she shopped Tuesday morning with a couple $1 bills in hand. "It's very hard for me to walk through the doors in the morning and, all these wonderful smells, this is a great addition really to the community."
When the bakery first opened in Silverthorne, it was turning out about 300-400 pieces a day, according to Pelen. Now, they're cranking out about 1,200-1,500.
The most common orders are for the churros and conchas, but everything they make has become pretty popular, according to Pelen, who never expected this kind of business traffic.
"We're trying to expand," he said. "We're trying to add more staff. Right now, we're so busy, but eventually we want to grow and get some more help."
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