By Amanda Gerndt   Published Jul 21, 2003 at 5:41 AM Photography: Molly Snyder

A fifth generation baker, Jorge Lopez knows the secret recipe for making your mouth and your tummy smile. He isn't the only one, though. The entire Lopez family has the talent make your mouth water. Along with his parents, Jose Sr. and Amparo Lopez, and brother, Jose Jr. Lopez, Jorge operates the family-owned Lopez Bakeries on Milwaukee's south side.

The baking tradition run in their blood. Jorge's great-great-grandfather was a master baker in Mexico, and the trade has been passed down to each successive generation. The elder Jose and Amparo, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, were the third generation of bakers. So, when they arrived here it was natural that Jose Sr. began working at small bakeries around Milwaukee.

He soon saved enough money to purchase his own machinery and in 1977 the first Lopez Bakery opened at 3rd and Lapham Streets. The business began to expand as the demand for authentic Mexican pastries escalated, and this keeps them expanding today. There are now four locations: 624 W. National Ave., 1601 W. Lincoln Ave., 1100 W. Mitchell St. and one in Racine.

Lopez Bakery began by selling mainly sweet breads, fruit-filled pockets and colorful cookies. Now they also have hard rolls, cakes and muffins. The Mitchell Street and Lincoln Avenue bakeries have also increased their business by adding a cooking kitchen, booths and tables with an authentic Mexican menu. If your appetite craves more than a sugar-coated treat, order a Mexican breakfast, lunch or dinner.


"Our recipes, styles and formulas are real traditional," says Jorge Lopez. "Everything is hand formed and handmade."

Not only are the bakeries expanding, but the clientele is as well. Although many of their customers are Hispanic, a diverse crowd is beginning to wake up to the pleasant aroma of Lopez's authentic Mexican pastries.

Although the Lopez family won't tell their family's secret recipes, they will share the secret to their success.

"Consistency is really what drives our business," says Jorge Lopez. "Our customers know what to expect when they come in."

Every so often the bakery will try a new recipe, but honoring the baking tradition in their family, the Lopez family will always maintain the traditional melt-in-your-mouth delicacies.