LAKELAND, Fla. — As we head into the holiday season, we're featuring local businesses around the Tampa Bay area that you can check out and support.
A Puerto Rican family-owned eatery in Lakeland's downtown is cooking up business one pastry at a time.
La Imperial Bakery has been open for about four years and specializes in Puerto Rican food with a comfort twist.
James Lazaros, co-owner and executive chef of La Imperial says he and his wife runs the business and his in-laws co-own it with them.
While the pandemic has been challenging for many local businesses, Lazaros says COVID-19 forced their business to be more productive.
"To be honest the pandemic was a blessing for us," Lazaros said. "And actually made us really look at what we were doing and how we were doing it so we actually evaluated how we were doing things and we're actually had some of our best business during the middle of the pandemic."
"We always say if you don't adjust to what's going on you're not gonna survive," he added.
La Imperial Bakery is offering up specials for the holiday season. They are open on Thanksgiving Day and will offer catering packages for families ranging from 5-10 people to up to 20 people. You can find more information on how to order here.
Lazaros says Thanksgiving isn't the biggest holiday for Puerto Ricans. Instead, Christmas is.
"Puerto Rico actually has the longest Christmas of any other country they start in like middle October and it goes all the way to the middle of January," he said.
Lazaros says one of the biggest holiday treats they have is coquito which is like a Puerto Rican version of eggnog.
As for Christmas plans for the bakery, Lazaros says, "We just really enjoy celebrating the holiday. We're gonna have Santa here this year. Christmas is our favorite time of year."
As a reminder, Small Business Saturday is Nov. 27.