Antonio Ramírez, from the fourth generation, in the bakery. / Eugenio Cabezas

A hundred years baking bread in Nerja

The Ramírez bakery turns 100, with the fourth generation at the helm of a business that seeks to reinvent itself while preserving its traditions

EUGENIO CABEZAS

The Ramirez bakery is an institution in Nerja. Founded in 1921, it is still located in the same spot where they first began to bake the bread that the neighbours brought to their ovens. The founders were Francisco Ramirez and Eloisa Navas, who had one of the few flour mills that there were in those days in the easternmost coastal town of the province.

A century later, two of their great-grandchildren, Antonio and María José Ramírez are in charge of the business.

Although they still try to maintain the essence of the traditional business, both have adapted to new times, with innovations such as cereal breads, spelt and rye and coloured breads, which they make by adding different edible dyes. “The essence is still the same, the secret is here”, he assures while he lifts the cloth that covers a huge lump of sourdough, “the origin of everything”. “You won’t see this in supermarket bakeries, there the bread comes in deep-frozen, who knows what they add,” says Antonio.

Since he was 19 he has lived “like an owl”. “I sleep from two to eight in the afternoon, work starts at nine at night and we are there until six in the morning, kneading and baking bread every day of the year, except Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, which is when we rest,” says this Nerja baker.

He goes on to explain that 70 per cent of his business is based on servicing the local hospitality industry. “With the pandemic we have had a very bad time, but the situation is already improving a little,” he admits.

On average, 1,500 loaves and about 5,000 buns are made daily, using about 400 kilos of flour which comes from Granada and Seville. “It depends a lot on the season, in summer we work more”, he says.

In addition to the different types and shapes of bread, when the Día de San Juan arrives, which is celebrated on June 24, they also prepare the traditional ‘tortas de aceite’. “We don’t make anything else, just that and the bread,” he clarifies. “A loaf of our bread costs one euro and it’s true that in the supermarket or in a greengrocer’s shop you can find two loaves for this price, but the flavour is not the same, far from it,” he says

“Good service and quality are our secret weapons”, summarises Ramírez, who is “very proud” of the “great team we have”, made up of six employees. “My grandmother, Julia López, is 101 years old and still comes to see us work, it is with much pride that we maintain this traditional bakery after a hundred years,” says Ramírez. A little while ago, the neighbours association of Las Protegidas, close to the bakery in the San Miguel street, paid tribute to them for this first century of their existence.

Passing the baton

“My children are still young, the boy is 16 years old and the girl is 13, I do not know if they will want to dedicate themselves to this profession in the future, but I personally would not want to, it is a very demanding job,” he admits.

A few metres from the bakery, some of his cousins are in charge of the Ramirez shop, founded in 1965, and which SUR in English’s sister paper, Diario SUR, reported on in 2015, when it was celebrated its first half-century selling traditional bread and pastries, for more than five decades in Nerja.