Words and photos by Mariah Thatch, Yelp Indy Marketing Intern
Since 2004, Yelp has worked to connect millions of people to the best in local business. In that time we’ve met thousands of passionate small business owners, a group as hardworking and diverse as any you’ll find. In this series, we share stories of just some of the people who, through their commitment to building great local businesses, are sustaining the vibrant local communities we call home.
Life has not always been doughnuts and conchas for the Rodriguez family, originally from rural Mexico.
“The language and not being close to our family has been the hardest part of adjusting to life in the United States. We were used to having our family within walking distance, and here in the States, we had no one nearby.”
At the ripe age of nineteen, Zoila Rodriguez and Miguel Rodriguez moved from their hometown of Guerrero Paso Morelos, Mexico to the United States, in pursuit of their own income and a home away from their parents. Newly married, the two trekked to the San Fernando Valley in California where they had their first daughter, Karla, and their son, Eleo, seven years later.
“The population (in Guerrero Paso Morelos) was about 1,000… there was still only one phone for the whole town. I love going back home (to Mexico) and disconnecting from all the technology around us. It is a much simpler place.”
In California, Miguel worked at a doughnut shop and Zoila as an LPN in a local nursing home. Zoila (perhaps smelling the sugary perfume of her husband’s clothes after days in the bakery) decided she too wanted to work as a baker. She began work in a Californian panadería (Spanish word for ‘bakery’) called Vallarta. Although happy in their careers, living in the San Fernando Valley proved to be more expensive than they anticipated, and they soon left to join their relatives in Avon, Indiana. Although they admit it was strange and difficult to find Mexican shops and grocery stores when they first arrived, they now wouldn’t leave Indy if you asked them.
Miguel and Zoila kicked off their Indy arrival with careers as cafeteria cooks at Hendricks Regional Health, but missed the life of the panadería. Spurring ambition to pursue their dream jobs, they opened a Mexican speciality store: Tienda y Taqueria de Don Miguel (still open and awaiting your Yelp love – photos below!).
“I always knew I was good with my hands and could bake, but I never knew I could own my own restaurant,” said Zoila Rodriguez.
Zoila, equipped with baking skills from Vallarta, was able to teach her family so they could open another shop, Ofelia’s Bakery. “I love making cakes and desserts. It is something that I began learning over fifteen years ago and I continue learning. There is always something new to learn and create. I enjoy people’s reactions when they see their cake and it is more than what they expected,” Zoila said. Her children work in Ofelia’s Bakery alongside her; Eleo works as a baker and Karla works on the business’ marketing.
The most popular items at Ofelia’s are the conchas (sweet bread shaped like shells – pictured below) and the pastels de tres leches (a type of spongecake). “People come into the bakery everyday for bolillo bread (savory Mexican bread) because it reminds them of their childhood and our Mexican culture,” said Eleo.
While Ofelia’s Bakery is still owned and operated by Miguel and Zoila, many other family members now contribute to the success as well: Zolia’s sister Josefina, her brother, Juan, Miguel’s nephew, Victor, and children, Karla and Eleo.
Another quote that touched our Yelp hearts: “We enjoy supporting other local businesses as well. Our family enjoys eating at Hana Japanese Fusion Sushi, Fujiyama Steakhouse of Japan, and Thai Orchid.”
Want to know more? Check out and bookmark Ofelia’s Bakery on Yelp!