Located right off Kingston Pike is a small Mexican panadería. Walking into the bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread and pastries fill the air and the bright colors of the green walls and multi-colored piñatas hanging from the ceiling catch the eye. La Flor is a traditional Mexican bakery that Audiel Vega Gomez and Ilda Soto have owned for twelve years.
Twenty-six years ago, they moved to Atlanta from Michoacán, Mexico. From Atlanta, they moved to North Carolina before landing in Knoxville twelve years ago. Ilda’s brother also lives in Knoxville and owns El Girasol, located next door to the bakery.
Audiel and Ilda decided to open a bakery because they wanted to own their own business and work for themselves. A baker came from Mexico to teach them the necessary skills and since then they’ve operated La Flor. In addition to making and selling traditional Mexican pastries and breads, they make cakes for a variety of events which Ilda decorates with beautiful colors and designs. While most of their customers are Hispanic, Americans also frequent the bakery.
Audiel and Ilda have been married for twenty years and have four children, all of whom were born in the United States. While life running a bakery is busy and difficult, says Audiel, both agree that it is worth the work. The freedom that comes with being self-employed is precious and they are happy with their life here.