Melao Bakery went from struggling business to must-stop destination in Kissimmee

Edward Colón has been working in his parent’s business, Melao Bakery, since they first opened it in 2008, shortly after moving to Kissimmee from Puerto Rico.

“The first years, we slept inside the store,” Colón said. “We had those foldable beds. We folded the beds, we put them in storage and we opened up.”

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Colón was in his teens at the time and his younger brother had just been born, adding to the challenge of churning out authentic Puerto Rican cuisine daily.

“I did a lot of (making) bread while I was trying to finish school and college,” he said. “So I was making bread and I would go to college and then come back and forth. So it was not easy.”

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The family started renting a small building on a quiet road in Kissimmee.

“We struggled,” Colón said. “There was no Spanish places around at that point — not like now, obviously. We knew we had a great product at that point, so, we took the risk.”

The gamble ended up paying off for the family. They now own the building they first opened in and have a second just outside of Orlando. The family also employs more than 150 people.

Despite the success they have seen, the family still puts many hours into the business.

“I work basically seven days a week,” Colón said. “?We work around the clock. It’s an everyday thing. I’ve got employees that come in at three in the morning. And I have employees that get out at (midnight).”

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That dedication has turned Melao Bakery into a destination spot within the Kissimmee community.

“Most people come straight from the airport,” Colón said. “People get there and get to eat every type of food that you find in Puerto Rico.”

Colón said the goal was always to give people a feel and taste of the island territory by making it accessible to everyone.

“We don’t just have Puerto Rican clients, obviously, we have all kinds of clients — specifically in the Kissimmee store,” he said.

The bakery is located just outside of Heritage Park. Many people stop by after various activities at the park or the Silver Spurs Arena.

The family is now looking to expand their business and get their products into more places.

“We’re working on mass production,” Colón said. “We’re growing our kitchen area, and our bakery area — everything’s gonna be double of what it was.”

He added that the family wants to make sure they can maintain the same quality as they increase the quantity of their product.

On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Colón shares more of his family’s story and the challenges they faced. He also gave Lisa Bell a sampling of some of the delicious food available at Melao Bakery.

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