PHOENIX — The operators of this small bakery have served the people of south Phoenix for more than 40 years, but the pandemic, the shutdown, and the lack of government aid given to so many businesses could force El Fenix to take drastic measures.
“He’s been trying to get some of the COVID help, the paycheck program was the first that he applied for, but there’s a lot of red tape with it and we sort of gave up on it,” explained Hilario Sanchez, co-owner of El Fenix Panadería Mexicana.
Hilario says this year’s scorching weather and the light rail construction have resulted in a decrease in sales and has slowed down production significantly.
El Fenix Panadería is located on south Central Avenue, right in front of the path for the new light rail expansion.
“The light rail is impacting, you can see on Central Avenue all the construction going on,” said Hilario.
Struggling to survive, these proud small business owners are hopeful the community they served will soon be back to help them save their family’s legacy and cement the bakery’s place in the community and culture of south Phoenix.
El Fenix Panaderia is more than a family business
Hilario and his brother Gabriel Sanchez say they grew up at the panadería, so did their kids and even their grandkids.
“This is my dad’s legacy here. We’re a first generation of Mexican-Americans. We’re proud of our heritage and definitely proud to be American. This is the American dream that we have here,” stated Hilario.
“I’ve worked too hard to keep El Fenix going and I would like for it to continue,” said Gabriel Sanchez, one of the oldest children.
For Gabriel, the panadería is a very special place, he says he still remembers when his dad started the business around the 1970s.
“It’s been my whole life, all my kids grew up here.”
Gabriel says he’s thankful for the south Phoenix community for supporting the family business throughout the years and remains hopeful.
“To continue supporting us and all the Mexican businesses because us Mexicans work really hard,” said Gabriel.
He invites everyone to try their Mexican pastries or pan dulce, “we have bolillos, teleras, conchas, magdalenas, cuernitos, galletas.”
Gabriel also wants to remind the community about their popular tamales and menudo, “We have beef, red chile, pork, and green chile tamales. Also white and red menudo.”
Hilario and Gabriel feel proud of how welcoming their small business has been to everyone, “anyone can come here no matter race and language.”
You can visit El Fenix Panaderia on south Central at 6219 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042.