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Food & Drink

Traveling Mexican Bakery Asks Bay Area for Help After Van Is Stolen, Destroyed

Written by Sarah HoltzPublished Jun. 20, 2023 • 11:32am
Juan Carlos Soto, left, and Ernesto Botello, right, pose with their mobile panaderia, Zeledon's. | Courtesy Zeledon's

Zeledon’s—a popular traveling Mexican bakery known for serving delectable pan dulce to the South Bay—was robbed of its mobile panadería over the weekend. The van, which had earned the business a large following on Instagram was later found, but the vehicle was smashed to bits, according to a post on the photo- and video-sharing social media platform.

Zeledon’s owners, Juan Carlos Soto and Ernesto Botello, launched a GoFundMe campaign on Monday with the goal of replacing their van and resuming business as quickly as possible. 

“As many of you know we’re a small business and this is our work truck and it helps provide for our families,” they wrote on the fundraising page. “Our goal is to be able to get enough funds to purchase a van and [...] all of work equipment.” 

On Tuesday morning, the uncle and nephew team had raised over $10,000 in less than 24 hours—already exceeding their fundraising goal. 

The roving panaderia went viral last summer when customers began posting videos on TikTok that documented their hot pursuit of the Zeledon’s van, which posts locations around San Jose and the wider South Bay on Instagram daily—never staying in one place for longer than an hour. Other viral clips show Soto and Botello opening the back of the van to reveal trays full of colorful Mexican sweet breads and savory treats. 

These videos led to three television appearances within a monthlong period on The Today Show, NBC Bay Area and Telemundo Área de la Bahía.

In January, The Standard learned that Soto and Botello plan to open a forever home for their bakery in the San Joaquin Valley town of Los Banos in the near future. Once that happens, Soto told The Standard he plans to focus on that brick-and-mortar business and leave the mobile bakery to Botello, who aims to add more vans to the fleet.

Soto and Botello did not respond to requests for comment by publication time, so it’s unclear how the robbery of their flagship van will affect these plans. 

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