By Dave Leder, Yakima Valley Business Times
One of the Tri-Cities’ best-known bakeries soon will have a presence in Yakima.
Viera’s Bakery & Deli, with two locations in Pasco, could open as soon as March 1 at 516 W. Lincoln Ave., next to Cost Less Carpets and the Safeway fuel station.
The Viera family is working on a full remodel of the former convenience store, which has been vacant for about a year.
The 6,200-square-foot bakery/deli will offer traditional Mexican pastries, fresh bread, cakes, espresso, sandwiches and more.
A large seating area will create a casual coffee shop atmosphere, while the open layout will allow customers to observe what’s going on in the kitchen.
“People will be able to see their food being made, like you sometimes see at the grocery store,” said Mario Viera, whose parents, Manuel and Esther, opened their first Pasco bakery in 2002. “We want people to see how clean and professional we are. We take a lot of pride in that.”
Viera and his wife, Christina, will manage the Yakima location, and at least one of them plans to be on site every day. Viera’s four siblings operate the two Pasco bakeries, though their parents are still actively involved in the business. “Both of our Pasco locations are extremely successful, and we thought it was time to branch out,” said Mario Viera, who lives in Kennewick and has a career in sales. “My parents didn’t want to take it on because their plates are pretty full right now. But my wife and I decided that now was a good time for us to expand the business.”
Viera explained that many of their regular customers live in the Yakima
Valley, where the Hispanic population is larger than in the Tri-Cities.
The family had been talking about expanding to Yakima for a few years, but the circumstances didn’t line up until about six months ago.
Around that time, they discovered the Lincoln Avenue location, which is about one-third larger than the two Pasco bakeries. The building owner agreed to a five-year lease with a five-year option after that. If all goes according to plan, the Vieras will have an option to buy the property once the lease terms expire.
“Everything came together perfectly, and we are pretty sure the business is going to takeoff over there,” Viera said. “We’ve gotten to know a lot of customers from Yakima over the years and they all say the same thing: ‘When are you going to open a store in Yakima?’ ”
Both Pasco locations are about 4,000 square feet and they are “busting at the seams,” Viera said. The extra 2,200 square feet of space for the Yakima bakery will create a more open feel for their customers while also providing extra room for growth.
Also included in the lease is a lot behind the bakery that will be fenced off and used for storage. Limited outdoor seating also may be available someday.
Viera says he is going for a “retro, barnyard look” that will appeal to a range of clientele. While there is much work to be done in the next month, Viera said it won’t be long before the drab, vacant convenience store is bustling with activity.
“Our goal is to do something that no other Mexican bakery has done on this side of the mountains,” Viera said. “We want it to be clean, comfortable and relaxing. We see it becoming kind of a lunch spot, a place you would want to stay for a while.”
The deli sandwiches will be made with freshly baked bread, and Viera said a variety of homemade soups could be added to the menu soon.
They also plan to become a coffee destination, serving Treasure Valley Coffee products.
While the Vieras’ specialty is Mexican pastries, they are well-known around Pasco for their enormous “Homer Simpson doughnuts.”
“My dad has always believed that bigger is better, and there’s a great margin to be made in doughnuts, so you can make them as big as you want,” Viera said of his father, who has been baking his entire life and in the Tri-Cities since 1978.
The bakery will also offer a variety of cakes for all occasions, except for weddings.
Viera is certain that the desserts, coffee and lunch selections will catch on quickly and just as confident that the atmosphere will become a big draw for his Yakima clientele.
Once the remodel is completed and all of the baking equipment arrives, the Vieras plan to hire a local crew of baristas, customer service reps and kitchen staff.
Two full-time bakers are being trained in Pasco this winter.
“We’re prepared to open whenever we can get everything done,” Viera said. “Everything is on schedule right now, so we expect to start seeing customers in March.”