Originally published Jan. 6 on KTVB.COM.
FRUITLAND—The owner and founder of the Gem State’s famous Rodriguez Bakery was the late Francisco Rodriguez.
“He was amazing. He was the hardest-working man I knew,” said Becky Rodriguez, current owner.
Francisco was also known as Don Pancho. He opened his first location 67 years ago.
“He started it back in the ‘50s in Eagle Pass, Texas, moved it up here in the ‘70s when all the migrant workers were moving up here, working in the fields and orchards over in Wilder,” Rodriguez Bakery Operations Manager Jarad Lamarsh said.
After moving to Idaho, Don Pancho started making home deliveries, and started making connections and longtime, loyal customers.
“In the time that I knew him, he would get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and the house was right next to the bakery. He would walk over to the bakery and make the bread, go home, and have his lunch,” Becky Rodriguez said. “Take a nap, load up his own van and do home deliveries, and he would get home at 10:30, 11 o’clock at night.”
Don Pancho moved to Mexico and created the bakery as a way to support his family.
“He grew up very poor in Mexico and his goal was to have something for his family. That was his goal,” Becky Rodriguez said.
After many successful years, his product continues to fill the hearts of many Idahoans, three generations later.
“It’s been awesome to watch it all. It’s been awesome to see and be part of the lowest of lows and the highest of highs,” said Victoria Rodriguez, granddaughter and social media manager.
While Don Pancho isn’t here today, his business continues to be a part of the community, but it hasn’t always been a smooth ride.
“When COVID hit, we didn’t know what to expect,” Becky Rodriguez said. “We had a meeting with all our employees that weekend and we just told them, we don’t know how long this is going to last, but we are going to ride it as long as we can.”
During the pandemic, the Rodriguez Bakery was able to continue production to meet the heavy demand.
“It was really good for us; it was really good for the employees. We were able to increase our employee work force that we have here, and increase pay with being able to get products into more stores and stuff too,” Lamarsh said.
The success of the Rodriguez Bakery covers most of the Gem State.
“I would say in 97% of the grocery stores here in the Treasure Valley all the way through the Magic Valley,” Lamarsh said. “Walmart, WinCo, Albertsons, some smaller chains as well.”
After many years of hard work, the business is expanding to bring its products to shoppers in northern Idaho and just across the state line.
“Jan. 23, we are opening our first WinCo in Spokane, (Washington),” Becky Rodriguez said. “We are so excited, it’s like a pinch-me thing for me.”
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