Box cakes to a burgeoning business: student-owned Chico’s Bakery

Sophomore Francisco Galdamez has always been drawn to the kitchen. What started as baking pre-made kits with his older brother morphed into curious experimentation when, as a young child, Galdamez created his own three-ingredient cupcakes. Now, not only are his recipes much less crude, they also yield delicious treats for the public to purchase via Chico’s Bakery, Galdamez’s business. 

Open for orders since Nov. 2021, Galdamez says the idea to turn his hobby into a bakery emerged in conversation with his parents. After completing his first few orders for his father’s coworkers, he created an Instagram page to advertise and receive orders through. 

“I wanted a name that was not just Francisco’s Bakery. I chose the name that my family calls me: Chico,” Galdamez said. “I wanted to start small and little by little progress, so I started off with banana bread.”

His banana bread — a customer favorite, though a headache to make, according to Galdamez — has blossomed into a menu that includes four flavors of cupcakes, chocolate chunk cookies, tres leches, fresas con crema and cake pops. Incorporating his culture with traditionally Hispanic desserts is a point of pride for Galdamez.

“I want people to try new things. Obviously if they don’t like it, it’s fine. But those who have tried (Hispanic desserts) have ordered more,” Galdamez said. 

Red velvet cupcakes and tres leches have proved most popular in recent weeks. However, for Tammy Villanueva, a fellow sophomore and frequent customer, the Chico’s Bakery banana bread reigns supreme. She recalls feeling down one day and, having forgotten she’d placed the order, receiving a surprise banana bread delivery from Galdamez. 

“That made my day, being able to taste something that I really like,” Villanueva said. “His cooking is just something special to me, and the fact that he always brings it to you with a smile on his face and he has cute little wrapping.”

Galdamez conducts all of his business through his Instagram, though he is considering expanding to Facebook. In the beginning, he budgeted about 70% of his sales to go back into the business for ingredients and packaging materials — the latter of which he purchases from his cousins’ custom label business, Yoana’s Creations — and kept the remaining profit for personal use. Now this dichotomy is closer to 50% split, though Galdamez is thoughtful with his take-home. 

“I don’t just save the money all for myself,” Galdamez said. “I try to help my parents with groceries or paying off a bill or something like that to help out the house a little bit.”

Galdamez operates Chico’s Bakery on his own, but his sister Elizabeth Galdamez occasionally pitches in. An 8th grader at Coile Middle School, she says her brother lets her help with easy tasks like mixing ingredients and making frosting. Elizabeth admires his work ethic, and even advertises his business at her school and delivers subsequent orders. 

“He knows what he has to do. He has a calendar for orders, and he knows what time he should start, what days,” Elizabeth said. “I thought his bakery would just be a family thing. I didn’t think it would spread so fast.”

Though she is forbidden from using the oven, Elizabeth looks forward to watching her brother’s goals come to fruition. Francisco says he’d like to learn how to make large celebration cakes next, and has already started practicing with birthday and quinceanera cakes for family.

SWEET STEPS: Francisco Galdamez, owner of Chico’s Bakery, makes chocolate chunk cookies for a client. In the months he’s been in business he has honed helpful skills. “I’m now able to manage my time, and also do things a lot faster with more precision in my hand, especially with decorating,” Galdamez said. “At the beginning they (baked goods) looked pretty lacking, but now they look really nice.” Photos by Isabella Morgan.

But Galdamez also dreams big — he hopes to expand his bakery to a storefront one day. A long-standing ambition, he has tailored his vision down to the small details over the years, such as using sugar cubes instead of sugar packets. 

“I have a picture of how I want it: a brick building, big glass windows in the front, two tables outside. Plants, probably some vines going up the bricks. Inside, black metal tables, bricks as well. A long counter, almost a dark theme,” ​​Galdamez said. “It’s obviously not easy for it to come true, but it’s going to become true one day. I know it will.”

Galdamez plans to first work in food hospitality, starting with a summer internship called Hospitality Career Academy in June. 

Fulfilling orders four to five times a week alongside his academic responsibilities has been Galdamez’s primary challenge thus far. He put Chico’s Bakery on hold for a month earlier in the year to help his family move and focus on studying. Even after his hiatus, Galdamez sometimes bakes at unorthodox hours — though he says it’s worth it. 

“There’s been times where I’ve come home around 9 p.m. and I have two orders to make. As soon as I get home, I start making everything and I have to go to sleep late, around 2 or 3 a.m.,” Galdamez said. “At the end of the day, I always look at it as a good cost, because I’m doing something that I like to do and giving it to somebody else.”

Galdamez’s other primary pastime is no surprise: cooking. Drawing from years of watching his mother cook, he likes to have a meal ready for his parents when they come home from long workdays. 

“Usually my mom tried to make my sister cook, but it always turned out to be me learning,” Galdamez said. “I always try to make something so my mom doesn’t have to do more at the house. I make pupusas, chicken tacos — really anything.”

As for advice for other students interested in starting small businesses of their own, Galdamez recommends starting small and prioritizing personal mental health. Beginning with manageable orders from friends and family allowed for him to gain his bearings and grow organically. 

“For somebody who’s first starting, it’s not easy to manage a whole bunch of orders at the same time — that’s when anxiety starts kicking in,” Galdamez said. “Start off small, but dream big.”

Violet Calkin

Senior Violet Calkin is Co-Editor-in-Chief for BluePrints Magazine. She plans to major in creative writing or journalism to become a professional writer or English professor. Calkin loves to read, be outside, and drink coffee at Jittery Joes. Her goals this year are to assist her peers in writing stories and ensure that they are enthusiastic about expanding coverage as a magazine staff. She appreciates the opportunity to unearth interesting topics and share them in a compelling way.