Two family-owned businesses operated by first-generation immigrants recently in the Mission District: District Tea, a boba tea shop on Mission Street, and Eterna Primavera, a Guatemalan bakery in the spot on 24th Street once occupied by Dominguez Bakery.
Manuel Barrientos, the owner of Eterna Primavera at 2591 24th St., is no stranger to the Mission or to panaderias: his father runs Universal Bakery at 3458 Mission St. and he has been baking in the Mission since 1984. His father’s old bakery is still open, and Barrientos worked there up until two years ago.
“This is the first time I’ve ever gone for anything like this,” said the 37-year-old Barrientos, who opened the bakery in May.
Barrientos said that as a child, his father would take him and his brothers to the bakery and teach them to make pan dulce and other Guatemalan breads. It’s an ongoing tradition in his family, and both Barrientos and his siblings have become bakers.
“There are just a lot of bakers in the family. Not just my dad — his dad was a baker in Guatemala, too,” Barrientos said.
Barrientos said two years ago he went out on his own and baked Salvadoran quesadillas and sold them to local shops in the Mission. Those sales eventually gave him enough to open up the current business.
His bakery also has a breakfast menu and some Guatemalan plates that are offered at all hours, along with coffee and aguas frescas. So far, he said, people have been receptive to the shop – especially during the mornings and weekends. His hours are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekends he’s open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Further north, at 2154 Mission St. between 18th and Sycamore streets, District Tea opened its doors in July and now sells freshly made bubble tea. The owners previously ran a food franchise in Daly City but gave it up to operate their own business.
Mickie Lau, a 24-year-old student at the California College of the Arts, said she and her two siblings run the day-to-day operations of the business, but the entire family pitched in to open the tea shop.
“My dad is an immigrant and he always wanted to run his own business, so he’s part of the reason why we wanted to help achieve this dream of his,” Lau said.
Lau, the co-founder and manager of District Tea, said they’re still nailing down the menu and what drinks to offer, but feedback from customers is helping. Regardless, they’re focused on getting fresh ingredients for their bubble teas.
Her sister, 20-year-old Rachel, said they’re working on making the tea drinks less sweet. It’s a process, though, because sometimes milk flavors can overwhelm the fruit or tea flavors, or sometimes different sugar types can overwhelm the other flavors.
“It took a lot of trial and error to get the flavors right,” Rachel Lau said.
Like Barrientos, the Laus were raised in the city and have experience running a business. Even the name was Mission-inspired.
“We just wanted to share our love for old-school San Francisco,” Mickie Lau said.