Photos by Kathy Tran

The stress of everyday life stops at the door. The smell of butter and sugar permeates the air. Customers take their time perusing the baked goods around the perimeter of the store. Even when it takes a few minutes for an employee to ring them up, no one seems to mind waiting while they munch on their gingerbread men. 

There’s something about Stein’s Bakery that keeps people coming back. Customers who have gone there since childhood now bring their grandkids. The owners, Owedia and Juan Alvarado, work with the same bakers as when they acquired the store in 2002. Even though it’s tucked away in the back of a shopping center with a simple white sign, Stein’s has stayed in business for more than 150 years. 

Consistency is the key to their success. The Alvarados use the same recipes as when the store first opened in Rockdale, Texas, in 1863. Everything from the ingredients to the method has stayed the same. 

“For instance, butter,” Owedia says. “You would think it’s all pretty consistent, but some brands have more water than others and that affects taste. We’ve been using the same brand of butter forever.”

It’s that kind of attention to detail that keeps customers coming back for the same flavors they remember from their childhood. Even Dallas celebrities come back to Stein’s when they are in town. 

“Morgan Fairchild used to come at Christmas all the time,” Owedia says. “Jeff Dunham, his mother is at the assisted living facility right down the road. Their birthday cakes have come from here for many years.”

Stein’s relies on consistency to stay competitive at a time when baked goods are readily available at the grocery store for a bargain. Their commitment to high-quality ingredients makes for a delicious pastry, but it comes at a high cost. 

“Vanilla right now is $190 a gallon,” Owedia says. “Can you imagine paying $190 dollars for a gallon of milk? And we go through vanilla like that.”

Stein’s Bakery

Address: Preston Valley Shopping Center

12829 Preston Rd #417

Hours: Closes 5:30 p.m.

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