A former child welfare social worker, Stevi Sanchez started baking as a creative outlet.
“I would bake for sanity,” Sanchez says with a smile from her new Dominican-style eatery.
From getting her start with sweet treats about 10 years ago, Sanchez then expanded her repertoire to include the savory, trying out her wife’s Dominican recipes for staples like chicken empanadas, rice and beans and longaniza (sausage with rice and beans) and fried fish.
“She’s good to talk to because she’s the Dominican part,” Sanchez said. “She’ll say ‘this isn’t good enough.’ ”
With the family recipes now perfected, Sanchez took the leap to business ownership, opening Dulce Bistro and Bakery on Easter Sunday, 2019. The cozy shop features several bistro-style tables for dining in and an ever-changing menu of mouthwatering lunch and dinner favorites, including Dominican stew, fried plantains, chicharron (baked pork skin, like pork rinds), a variety of empanadas and panini sandwiches.
Dulce – or “sweet” – portion of the shop features all made-from-scratch delectable treats like Dominican-style flan, tres leches cake, coconut candy clusters, a variety of pastries, Danishes and a daily cupcake flavor. On a recent visit the featured cupcake was a yellow cupcake with a pineapple filling. Guava is another common cupcake filling, Sanchez said, adding that Dominican-style cake is always a light airy cake, either yellow or angel food cake. She also makes red velvet and chocolate cupcakes periodically and takes custom cake orders.
Most times people think of baked goods, but don’t realize Dulce offers lunch and dinner platters as well.
“People don’t understand the bistro part,” she said, adding that a bistro is a “quaint place where you can get cheap, good food.”
In addition to providing the Dominican flair to the food and baked goods, Sanchez’s wife, a former chef of 15 years, shares her love of cooking and baking. It’s something the couple is already passing on to their two daughters.
“Our 9-year-old wanted to be a chef, now she wants to take the business over,” Sanchez said. “We tell her she has to work her way up, handing out fliers and sweeping the floor. She’s trying to understand how we cook her food.”
For now, Sanchez is pretty much a one-woman show, handling the cooking, baking and day-to-day business operations.
“I bake every day. I cook every day,” she said. “It gets crazy.”
Sanchez said her wife, who has a full-time job, hopes to eventually help with the business. The couple’s families stop by on occasion to show support. Their daughters are natural cheerleaders for the business, which began as a custom cake operation before Sanchez moved into the current location.
“It’s good,” Sanchez said. “It’s two women navigating everything, taking care of two women.”
To learn more
Dulce Bistro and Bakery is located at 227 Plaza Blvd, store 27. Hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop is closed on Tuesday. For more information, call 267-797-5603 or visit www.dulcebistrobakery.com.