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Porto's Bakery opens in Burbank

January 18, 2006|By By Vince Lovato

The business has come a long way since the immigrant owners arrived in the '60s.BURBANK -- The Porto's Bakery success story is expanding -- again. This time it's going to Burbank.

The landmark Brand Boulevard pastry producer will host a grand opening at 9 a.m. Monday at 3514 W. Magnolia Blvd. on the corner of Hollywood Way.

The business has come a long way since Rosa and Raul Porto immigrated to the United States in the late '60s, said Raul Porto Jr. who has worked in the family bakeries since he was 13, and is the manager of the Glendale bakery.

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A broad range of products -- from wedding cakes to morning pastries and sandwiches -- have helped established it as one of the most popular places to eat in a city dense with fine eateries.

Chicago-based Modern Baking magazine named Portos the 2004 "Retail Bakery of the Year" out of 13,000 retail bakeries throughout the country.

"Every city has two or three places that are landmarks ... and we're becoming that for Glendale," said Raul Porto Jr., 45. "I guess if you survive almost 30 years, it comes with the territory."

So does a great family story.

Rosa Porto was baking and selling cakes out of the family's Los Angeles home in 1968 and when it got too busy they opened a storefront in Los Angeles in 1973.

"In '78 we found a bakery that was for sale on Brand and we bought it," Raul Porto Jr. said. "We liked the neighborhood. It was quiet and nice and somewhere we wanted to move into. So we moved ourselves over here, too."

After moving into two progressively larger locations all on Brand, the bakery settled in at its current location at 315 and 309 N. Brand Blvd.

The store is very busy, but instead of moving again, the Portos decided to find out where their some of their customers were coming from and take the store to them, Raul Porto Jr. said.

"We did some research to see where most of our customers are coming from and that was Burbank," he said.

Glendale resident David Swanson has visited the bakery six days a week for the past 10 years, he said.

"They are just a fantastic place and what makes it so charming is knowing the history of the family and, of course, the good food," Swanson said. "One of the nice things is that they have such a huge selection and everything tastes great, but also the customer service that -- for the huge demand they have -- they don't get nasty and cop an attitude."

He is particularly fond of the long, buttered Cuban bread, which he sprinkles cinnamon on.

"That consistency -- time and time again -- is perfect," Swanson said. "You really need to go in the back and watch those guys work and build the cakes. They are fast and every one looks perfect because they've been doing it for years."

Swanson also admires the work ethic that the Portos exude.

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