BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The warm aroma of freshly baked bread filled Juan Rios-Narciso’s
family home, sparking a business idea which would satisfy his entrepreneurial hunger.
“I grew up listening to my parents talk about starting their own business, and I guess
I wanted to do what they couldn't,” said Rios-Narciso ’22, a design, technology and entrepreneurship (DTE) major at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Upon entering his family’s Arrowsmith, Illinois home and smelling his mother’s freshly
baked bread, Rios-Narciso voiced his desire to open a restaurant some day. As he and
his mother brainstormed culinary business ideas, she suggested starting small, such
as by selling bread similar to what she had just baked.
“I realized that it was perfect. I could start small and build a name from there,”
He shared the idea with Director of Design, Technology and Entrepreneurship Tara Gerstner
’01, along with other Illinois Wesleyan faculty, who helped Rios-Narciso develop a
business plan for “Azteca Pan.”
Rios-Narciso decided to launch Azteca Pan by selling his bread at a stand during the
Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market. The market takes place on the historic Museum square every Saturday from 7:30 a.m.
to noon from May through October. Azteca Pan “provides the taste of home in a busy
world,” offering patrons Mexican sweets such as Pan Dulce.
For Rios-Narciso, Azteca Pan is not just a business but a unifying cultural experience.
“I want to use this opportunity to spread my culture and unite people when so much
of the world is dividing,” Rios-Narciso said. “I want to unify and just share what
I am passionate about with other people.”