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Lucia Rivas Pedigo grew up in Old East Dallas. Before her parents became the owners of Del Norte Bakery in 1989, she had never tasted pan dulce. There were few panaderías in the area, unlike today.
Lucy’s parents, Jesus and Eloina, were born in Zacatecas, Mexico. Her father sold fruit at the Farmer’s Market, and she would help him during her summers. When he got laid off from his job, Lucy’s parents heard that a nearby panadería was for sale. They bought it on a whim.
Her parents knew nothing about baking or running a business. It took the family time to find experienced bakers, and when they did, they had just enough equipment to get started.
Soon, they were making pan dulce, conchas, bolillos, empanadas, polvorones, and chocolate and vanilla birthday cakes. Then came the quinceañera cakes. After one of their cake decorators introduced them to the tres leches cake, they made that too.
Lucy was 14. At the end of every school day, she headed to the panadería to begin her shift so that her parents could take their daily break.
She learned the register and helped with customers. She watched the cake decorators at work and eventually learned how to make and decorate them as well. Lucy then taught a couple of her aunts, cousin and other employees. It was all trial and error.
“I wanted to help my family,” says Lucy. “I didn’t think, ‘I really want to learn how to do this,’ but I knew it would help the family if I knew how.”
She remembers her parents working very hard to keep their new business running. On Sundays, her father loved standing outside their shop to greet customers.
Thirteen years ago, her parents retired. Today, Del Norte has four locations in the Dallas area—each managed by a different Rivas family member. Lucy Rivas Pedigo runs the original location on Lindsley Avenue.
The other Del Norte Bakery locations sometimes tweak their offerings; for instance, Lucy’s cousin has tried out Halloween-themed and heart-shaped pan dulce. However, the classics remain their bestsellers, including their tres leches cakes.
You can try their best-selling cake in certain Dallas-area restaurants, where it may be topped with berries or rum and served by the slice. One such locale is the popular Tex-Mex restaurant Las Palmas.
Del Norte’s traditional tamales include chicken in tomatillo, pork in red sauce, which they sell out of every year, and one of bean, cheese, and jalapeño. Del Norte sells them every week by the dozen or half-dozen along with house-made salsas.
Del Norte offers more than tamales, cakes, and conchas. If a customer walks in to request a certain dessert, they can improvise and make it happen.
“We get a lot of customers from a variety of different cultures,” says Lucy. “It’s not only a Hispanic thing. We have a big supportive community.”
Lucy adds that Del Norte has helped her appreciate her own culture. Her employees, who are more familiar with Mexico, bring their traditions to the bakery. Many of the bakers at Del Norte have been there for over 20 years.
“I want people to come in and say, ‘This reminds me of my grandma’s house, or this reminds me of going to Mexico,” says Lucy.
Through hard work and dedication, Lucy Rivas Pedigo and her family have turned Del Norte Bakery into an institution in the Dallas community.
As the bakery continues to grow, it remains true to its roots, offering traditional pan dulce and cakes steeped in Mexican culture and childhood memories.
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