Catalana

Manuel Ayala, one of the proprietors of La Catalana, explained that his great-grandfather’s 100-year-old recipe will need to be altered so that the “mallorcas” can reach their destination still fresh. >Tito Orlando Ortiz

La Catalana, a family-owned enterprise, has decided to start exporting its “mallorcas” to the United States in order to appease the diaspora that clamors for the sweet treats made with a hundred-year-old recipe.

Not only will they start shipping their “mallorcas” stateside, but during the past year they have also added various new items to their menu. The “mallorca” with cheese and guava, special bread made with “mallorca” dough, “pan sobao”, “polvorones” (Puerto Rican cookies) and “besitos de coco” (Puerto Rican coconut macaroons) are just some of the offerings that La Catalana has started selling.

Manuel Ayala, one of the proprietors, explained that his great-grandfather’s hundred-year-old recipe will need to be altered so that the “mallorcas” can reach their destination still fresh.

“This will be the first time that we use preservatives in our mallorcas because I want to reach Puerto Ricans in the United States. In order to get our product into this new market and at grocery stores, I need preservatives. I am currently on the hunt for ones that won’t change our “mallorcas’” flavor, which is the most important thing to me,” said Ayala.

“So many people have asked me to mail my “mallorcas” to the States that I have decided to start working on getting all the necessary permits so that, God-willing, I may start exporting them in 2020, “ added Ayala, who is part of the family’s third generation in charge of the company.

Even though they haven’t started exporting in full, they did start shipping their “mallorcas” stateside to many customers. Every month, they prepare packages with assorted goodies that they send to devoted consumers outside of Puerto Rico.

THE WEEKLY JOURNAL was able to tour the company’s facilities at Villa Palmeras in San Juan, where they have been since 1930. La Catalana currently employs 12 employees that are in charge of making, cooking, packaging and shipping the “mallorcas”. These workers produce between 8,000 to 18,000 mallorcas every day, from Monday to Friday.

“We make everything fresh, by hand, daily; our product doesn’t contain preservatives so the taste is different to everybody else’s. Our “mallorca” is sweet, soft, dense; it’s not a fluffy bread. People may say that our mallorca is smaller when compared to others, but, when you eat them, you fill up because it’s not full of air. This is what a “mallorca” should taste like,” added Ayala.

Production varies because it depends on the quantity ordered. Aside from selling their “mallorcas” to individual customers, they sell to independent distributors who sell them to different establishments, such as gas stations and supermarkets, and to schools who use them for fundraising.

For Ayala, it is imperative to continue the family legacy and, with that end in mind, he continually instills in his children, nieces and nephews a love for the company.

“I grew up in this. This is how I have always earned my living. It fills me with pride to work and maintain my family’s legacy; to be able to keep our product the same as it’s always been and now to be able to diversify our offerings,” said Ayala, who is also the factory manager.

“We used to make a lot of different products but had stopped and are now starting to make them again. We are trying to grow because the family is now larger and we wish for our children to continue with the family business and to be here for a hundred more years,” he said.

La Catalana is located at 401 Del Valle St. in Santurce. For more information, or to purchase “mallorcas”, call (787) 727-6946.

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