Pedro Ulloa, owner of Le Croissant French Bakery, is a hard-working baker with a passion for making his customers happy. This is his fascinating story.
Q: Tell me about your background. How did you learn to make French pastries?
A: I am from Mexico and I went to Los Angeles in 1985. I didn't even speak English. I learned a little bit there, but I learned more here. Of course, I was looking for work. At first, I found a restaurant job, but I didn't like it. I spoke to the maintenance man there and told him I know how to work with tools. He talked to his boss and they offered me a job. When I went to help him, I liked that work. I was making $3.45 an hour before. When I went to maintenance, he paid me $5 an hour, back in 1985. I got a big step up. I stayed there about six months, after that I moved to a French bakery and learned to bake. They paid me $4.25 an hour. I don't care about money, I want to work. At the time it was fine, I could survive.
Q: How did you end up in Indiana?
A: My daughter moved here for school and she called me to come here. She said there were a lot of jobs here, so I came.
My first year when I had a vacation, I decided to go back to Los Angeles to get my car. I was paying to have it parked there. On my way back, I had a big accident. Everything was broken. My head would've been gone if I didn't turn the car to the other side. I got lucky. I talked to a lawyer and I ended up getting a settlement. I used that to open this place.
Q: What's your favorite part of this job?
A: The customers. They are very nice. I love to surprise them. When they come and see the showcase, they don't believe it and how good it is. I love what I do and I love to work. A lot of people come in here and call me by my name. I like when people are smiling and I make their day.
Q: What is your favorite pastry that you make?
A: I like the turnovers with the puff pastry. Everything is good. The one I eat the most is the ham and cheese croissant and the fruit Danish or tart.
Q: How long does it take to make these masterpieces?
A: I work more than 16 hours a day, around 100 hours a week. I get up at 12 a.m. and start the dough, that's a lot of work. I'm always working. I've always been poor but I am hard-working, and now I see a little future for me.
Q: What do you have planned for the future?
A: My two sons are here and they are learning and are almost very good. I would like them to take my place. I would like to save money and open another restaurant in Carmel. I want to work as a handyman again, but not just a handyman, I can do a lot more than that. My sons will be here and run this place.