June 10. 2016 5:31PM
NEW BEDFORD — Persistence paid off Friday in the North End, as Lorenzo Vazquez and several family members and friends opened their new Puerto Rican bakery — a dream long in the making — on Acushnet Avenue.
“Dream, and keep dreaming, and don’t wake up until your dreams come true,” Vazquez said to a small crowd, standing beneath the Lorenzo’s Bakery sign moments after receiving an honorary citation from city officials, in recognition of the opening.
Lorenzo’s Bakery bills itself as a panaderia y reposteria — Spanish for “bakery and cake shop” — that’s “Home of Original Puerto Rican Bread,” according to its sign at Acushnet and Phillips Avenue, across Acushnet from Café Mimo.
An array of pastries, desserts, donuts, breads and more filled the bakery’s display cases Friday morning. Menus also listed sandwiches, fried foods, flavored ices, espresso and other items, for breakfast, lunch and in between.
Behind the counter, co-owner Rafael Sanchez said interior renovations took about a year at the corner location, at 1533 Acushnet. The renovations followed about two years of site selection and planning, he said.
“It’s been a lot of work,” said Sanchez, who was born in Cambridge but grew up in Cidra, Puerto Rico, before moving to New Bedford in 1995.
“Cidra, PR,” is painted decoratively on a column in the café area, and “Bayamon” — a city on the island’s north coast — is on another. Maps of Puerto Rico adorn the ceiling and an upper wall.
Lorenzo’s opened with support from the New Bedford Economic Development Council (EDC), which helped Vazquez secure a $50,000 microloan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Nadine Boone, the administration’s director of lender relations in Massachusetts, attended Friday’s opening, which was held on the sidewalk under a clear blue sky.
“We are here to make dreams like this come true,” Boone said.
Nancy Durant, lending and compliance specialist for the EDC, said the typical repayment period for such a loan is five years, with an interest rate of 6 percent.
Angela Johnston, the EDC’s director of business development, said the loan is part of $350,000 the EDC has received from the Small Business Administration, to boost local efforts such as Lorenzo’s.
Amid all the good news Friday morning, two of the happiest people at the opening were Joseph and Angelina Monteiro, who have owned the building since about 1995.
Angelina said the bakery’s site has been vacant that entire time. She and Joseph used it for storage, she said, while paying $2,000 a month for the mortgage with rents from other homes they own in the area. She declined to say what Vazquez would pay for rent, but smiled at the long-awaited source of revenue.
Angelina said she turned down a few potential business offers at the corner spot over the years, but chose Vazquez for a simple reason.
“Because he kept calling me and calling me,” Monteiro said, citing his strong work ethic.
Mayor Jon Mitchell said hard work is yielding results in the “resurgence” of the North End Business District, where, for example, Portuguese bakery Chocolate com Pimenta unveiled sparkling renovations in March, a few blocks south.
“The avenue is a place where the American melting pot really comes together,” Mitchell said. “(Lorenzo’s) is going to be very, very successful — they’ve got the right stuff.”
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