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This Latina From South Gate Created a “Pawnaderia” That Bakes Mexican Pan Dulce Treats For Dogs

Meet Adriana Montoya, the founder of La Pawnaderia, a bakery that allows you to share your favorite Mexican treats and culture with a four-legged friend through pup-friendly pan dulce and “candy.”

1:33 PM PDT on August 17, 2023

Photo: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Adriana Montoya showcases a box of pan dulce inspired dog treats in front of her house.

Have you ever dreamed of a world where your dog could join you on your morning ritual of enjoying a cafecito with pan dulce? Well, that fantasy can now be a reality.

Meet Adriana Montoya, the Latina founder of South Gate’s La Pawnaderia, a bakery that allows you to share your favorite Mexican treats and culture with a four-legged friend through pup-friendly pan dulce and “candy.”

When you step into Montoya’s home, it’s just like stepping into a real human panaderi. The smell of baked goods fills your lungs as you enter. Her kitchen is where all the baking happens and to the right is her assembly table, where white boxes labeled with La Pawnaderia's logo wait to be stuffed with nostalgic treats. 

“It’s so cute, right?,” Montoya said, while taking a white decorated cake out of her fridge. The cake read, “Best Fur-ends.”

The single mom of one said she has always had an entrepreneurial side. When it came to baking and dogs, she has always loved them both, but never thought the two would dovetail the way they have. 

“I've just been obsessed with dogs and pets in general," she laughs. "Anybody in my family, all my friends, they all know dogs are my thing. I’m the person at the party that’s petting the dog and I’ve always had a passion for baking.” 

Montoya told L.A. TACO she was used to baking for family and friends, but never thought about baking for a living. Let alone baking for dogs. Her earliest business venture with pups began with a grooming business she started while living in an apartment complex. 

“I originally started as a dog groomer,” she said. “I was the dog groomer for my apartment complex, I would pick them up take them back to my apartment and groom them.”

Montoya decided to document this journey on social media and began to gain a following. Which is when the idea of the dog-friendly treats came to her. 

“Like I said, I love dogs and I just like making them happy," she said with a smile. "And my dogs were always stealing my food. So I was just like well let's see how we can make this work and I started doing my research."

“That's where I was like, 'let’s see if I can figure out how to make this edible for dogs," she said. "I eventually figured out how to do the conchas, elotes, and puerquitos."

From November to January, Montoya would post her treats online in a test to see if people were interested. In February, she posted a video on TikTok promoting her ramo treat bouquets for dogs.

Across the video, she wrote, “If he doesn't buy your dog a treat ramo this year he’s not the one.”

“That’s when this became my full-time job, when my video went viral,” she said, still in shock at her business' rapid growth. “The following day after that, I got 1,500 orders.”

Photo: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO. "La Caja" from La Pawnaderia includes an array of nostalgic pan dulce like conchas, puerquitos and mexican inspired desserts like mazapan and tamarindo pops with peanut butter.
Photo via: La Pawnaderia
Photo via: La Pawnaderia

As for her treats, there are numerous options, just like a panaderia. Besides her cakes, she has conchas, puerquitos, rainbow sprinkle cookies, elotes, cuernitos, smiley face cookies, and for a taste of candy-skewing sweets, there's also Mexican mazapan and “tamarindo” paletas made out of peanut butter. 

Montoya prides herself on using only the best ingredients, so much so that her treats are edible for dogs, as well as humans. 

“There’s no secret to the ingredients" she told us. "I don’t hide anything. The more transparent, the better for me and my customers. That’s what I like about my products, it’s all handmade and baked to order. It’s grain-free. I use coconut flour, eggs, and peanut butter, and it’s not just generic peanut butter that you get at the store, where you have to worry about xylitol that's actually toxic for dogs.”

She explained that there are a lot of treats out there whose producers are not concerned with the quality of ingredients or the safety of pets. Many still add high amounts of sugar and salt, ingredients she purposely avoids.

Montoya promises that you're guaranteed fresh treats at La Pawnaderia, just like regular pan dulce. There are no preservatives, so her goods last about seven days before they go bad.

The baker is always looking to add more items to her menu. Although she technically works alone, all of her recipes are pre-approved by her two dogs.

Her 12-year-old chihuahua ,Cosmo, has been there from the beginning, trying all the recipes Montoya threw at him. Whatever he would approve of moved forward to being an actual product in her shop.

Today Cosmo has passed on all taste testing duties to his brother, a five-year-old, one-eyed Frenchie named Juanito. Named Juan for his "juan" eye. 

“Cosmo has tried everything, so he is over it, but Juanito eats it all,” she said. “This is a way of sharing my culture with my dogs too. I grew up with pan dulce and now they will too.”

To promote her business, the single mom of one posts videos on TikTok and other social media platforms. Occasionally she will also give out free treats. In one instance, she and her daughter went to Long Beach to pass out free cake slices to pups who were at the beach. Meaning dogs might have had their choice of cake or this vendor's dog-friendly ice cream that day.

Montoya's popularity has grown so much she has been able to bake cakes and treats for pup royalty. Like TikTok-famous Chilakil, a golden retriever who has gone viral. She also baked treats for comedian Gabriel Iglesias, who requested some for his dogs. 

Did Montoya ever imagine she'd be baking cakes for celebrity dogs?

“No,” she laughed. “That's always the goal but I never thought it would be this quick.”

One of her main goals and aspirations going forward is to further grow her business and eventually open an indoor dog park where she can provide private rooms for parties with snacks. For now, she is simply grateful for all the support she has received.

“I love the fact that I am able to incorporate my culture into this business and the fact that I get to do what I love,” she said in the middle of packing an order. “When people come to pick up their orders, the dogs are always super excited, and it's a fun community that I am part of. I‘m grateful for everyone who follows me and supports me.”

Follow @la_pawnadria on Instagram for more information on how to order.

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