Back in business

WORTHINGTON -- Patrons who have been missing their favorite sweet treats from Panaderia Mi Tierra Bakery on Worthington's 10th Street can put their longings behind them when the locally owned caf? re-opens on Monday.

Panaderia Mi Tierra
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Juan and Kerry Cuate look forward to reopening their bakery on 10th Street in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Patrons who have been missing their favorite sweet treats from Panaderia Mi Tierra Bakery on Worthington's 10th Street can put their longings behind them when the locally owned café re-opens on Monday.

Owners Juan and Kerry Cuate temporarily closed their business last October when Juan, the shop's main baker, underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his right arm.

"We expected to be closed for only a month because the doctor thought he had only a partial tear, but it turned out to be a full tear, so the recovery was longer," Kerry said. "His arm had been bothering him for months, then he had six weeks of therapy, but it just wasn't getting better.

"He'll have to be careful as he gets back to work, but when you own your own business, there's no light duty," she added. "He plans to go in earlier and work slower."

The Cuates will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the popular bakery in February, having moved to Worthington in early 2007 after running a similar shop in Long Prairie. The smaller town didn't have as much opportunity as Worthington, the Cuates believed.


"We also had a bakery in Mexico for a while when we were first married in 1997," shared Kerry, who grew up in Clarissa. "Juan's father and grandfather were both bakers, so he has been baking since he was just a boy; he followed in the family tradition.

"His parents still have a bakery in Axochiapan, Moreles, Mexico."

Juan's Bavarian cream turnovers, jalapeno cream cheese bread sticks, elephant ears and bread pudding are particular local favorites, Kerry mentioned.

"We also have a wide variety of cookies, and our traditional Mexican white breads -- bolillo and telera -- are big sellers with people of all cultures," she said. "We make cakes of all kinds for birthdays, quinceaneras, first communions, baptisms, weddings -- cakes for any special occasion, with prices for every budget, and you can ask for fresh fruit filling at no extra cost."

In addition, Panaderia Mi Tierra offers Hispanic groceries, balloons and party ware, plus a good selection of coffees, cappuccinos and cold beverages.

While the past few months have been trying for the Cuates, for whom the bakery is their primary source of income, 2012 appears to be off to a promising start.

"Today is our daughter Karina's 14th birthday, and Juan took and passed his U.S. citizenship test in Sioux Falls last Friday," revealed Kerry. "His application was recommended for approval, and he hopes to be sworn in as an official U.S. citizen in March, so we'll never have to deal with renewing his permanent residence card again."

The Cuates' two children both attend Worthington Middle School; Karina is an eighth-grader and Alex, 10, is in fifth grade.


Kerry works full-time at the bakery, which also employs three part-time people -- all of whom are bilingual.

"All of our up-front staff can speak both English and Spanish," she confirmed. "We have people of all kinds come to the bakery, just everyone in town, and I hope they all keep coming back now."

Several regular coffee groups have met at Panaderia Mi Tierra in the past, including a collection of retired men who feel so comfortable in the cheerful, bright dining area that they asked the Cuates if they could put up a hand-crafted metal sign on the wall identifying them as the "Truth and Wisdom Club."

"We let them hang it up," laughed Kerry.

Bruce Flygare, one member of the "Truth and Wisdom" crowd, anticipates more good times at Panaderia Mi Tierra in the months ahead.

"It's just a nice spot to go have a cup of coffee and watch people," he affirmed. "It's downtown, it's nice and clean, we enjoy the owners, and it's a great place for coffee and a roll."

The Cuates look forward to once again greeting regular customers like Flygare, but they also hope new patrons will check out what they have to offer.

"We have missed everybody, but we are very thankful to God for taking care of us during this time," said Kerry. "We have been blessed by many people who helped us out in different ways, but now we are looking forward to getting back and praying the business will go well."


Panaderia Mi Tierra 2
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Juan and Kerry Cuate stand outside their bakery on 10th Street in Worthington which will reopen on Monday.

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