CAO Bakery & Café, a South Florida staple known for blending traditional Cuban baking with the inviting atmosphere of American-mainstay cafés, announced today its plan to expand their pastelito portfolio through franchise opportunities. This will allow Cuban American Original (CAO) to reach new markets beyond its nine Miami-Dade and three Broward locations.
As the retail bakery market in the Miami Metro area grew a robust 13 percent between 2017 to 2018, nationwide, the bakery-café industry is projected to grow at a 2.3 percent annual rate over the next three years. CAO plans to capitalize on the industry’s resilience—which prospered despite the economic downturn – with the addition of franchise locations in high-traffic retail centers where it will have optimal synergy with co-tenants and the surrounding residential and commercial base.
CAO Bakery Holdings LLC is led by South Florida residents and childhood friends, Antonio Cao and Carlos De Varona. Antonio and Carlos previously owned and operated six Vicky Bakery locations from 2008 to 2018, before branching off to launch CAO Bakery & Café. Antonio or, Tony serves as the head of product production, quality control and operations, is a third-generation baker and pastry chef with over 20 years’ experience. At the age of 13, Tony began working directly under his grandfather, Antonio V. Cao, the founder of Vicky Bakery, where he developed a lifelong passion and knowledge of the baking and customer service industries. His partner, Carlos De Varona, holds a background in finance and international business, and oversees construction, purchasing, Human Resources and accounting. Yvette Cao, CAO’s Head of Marketing and Advertising, leads all promotional and branding campaigns, grand openings and social media strategy. The upper management department includes a Director of Operations, Regional Manager, Training Coordinator, Store Opening Manager and an Accounting team providing all onsite support including scouting locations, exterior and interior design, onsite staff training and maintenance support.
With more than 50 years of combined industry experience, CAO has crafted a streamlined system of operational guidelines using the latest technology and software to manage inventory, track customers and provide real-time data and financial patterns. With over 250 employees and a stringent manager training program, CAO ensures that every individual who leads a location is not only efficient but possesses the skills required to provide superior customer service that has come to be synonymous with the brand.
The new CAO Bakery & Cafe locations will address customers’ demand for affordable, satisfying, varied and comforting food for all three daily meals and everything in between, as well as for party platters and baked goods to serve at events. The primary product availability is prepared in CAO’s commissary in a single location by skilled personnel and professional pastry chefs.
“Miami is the stomping ground for Cuban bakeries,” says Cao. “Over the last decade, we have evolved and modernized the neighborhood bakery model into a mainstream, fast-casual concept. As a brand, we would love to see our cafécitos and pastelitos introduced in new cities.”
During the pandemic, all CAO locations remained open and served the community. While in-store foot traffic decreased due to the nationwide shutdown, the bakeries saw an increase in online orders, curbside and third-party deliveries. CAO was featured for its various community efforts in the Miami Herald, NBC, CBS, Sun Sentinel, Miami News Times and Thrillist, among others, and won a Time Out Miami’s 2020 Time In Awards. The bakeries also continue to offer 25 percent off to first responders and have served over 6,000 meals to date through food bank distributions.
“As Cuban food and coffee have become part of everyday life in South Florida, we believe the desire for a Hispanic concept lies in areas outside of our own. Franchising gives us the opportunity to grow alongside our partners and scale our concept and products to the market quickly,” says De Verona.
To request more information on franchise opportunities, visit caobakery.com/franchise.