Profile appeared in our 28-1 Issue – April 2011
For over 66 years, Pyrenees French Bakery has been the endeavor of the Laxague family. The Laxagues are members of the ancient and colorful Basque culture, which extends throughout the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain.
At the age of 18, Pierre (known to his friends as “Pete”) Laxague arrived in the United States to work as a sheepherder. Five years later, he set out to learn the techniques of making high-quality sourdough French bread at a Southern California French Bakery. He then married a young Basque girl named Juanita Ermigarat and raised a family, daughter Marianne and son Michel.
Following a successful partnership in Southern California, the Laxagues moved to Bakersfield in 1945 to start their own bakery. That same year, they purchased the Parisian Bakery on East 18th Street from Pete Borda. In 1947, Pierre and Juanita purchased the Kern City French Bakery (established in 1887) from Mr. & Mrs. Joe Gueydan and changed the name of the bakery to Pyrenees French Bakery in honor of their native province.
Pierre would arrive at the bakery daily, before 5 a.m., to make each day’s bread and Juanita would deliver it to the restaurants and markets. Pierre continued to use an old-fashioned brick oven and his own old-world formula for the bread dough. The Pyrenees Bakery expanded to ten times its original size.
Working with the same recipe that founder Pierre “Pete” Laxague brought to the oven 66 years ago, Pyrenees French Bakery has been feeding our area for generations.
The entire Laxague family has been involved in the operation of the bakery. Pierre and his son, Michel, were the dough masters, Juanita assisted in the business end and deliveries in the early years, and their daughter, Marianne, assisted in finances and management. Michel passed away in 1979, Pierre, in 1993 and Juanita in 2009.
Marianne continues to run the business today with the help of her nephew Rick Laxague and wife Cheri, who are both full-time employees. Nephew Jean-Charles Laxague, who is a medical physicist, works part time. Great-grandchildren, Zach Laxague and Alisabeth Laxague, also work part time.
The Pyrenees French Bakery prides itself on customer service and the dedication of its employees.
Of its twenty-five employees, seven have been employed over thirty years, six over twenty years, and three over fifteen years! Because of employee loyalty and commitment, the bakery can offer an excellent product to the community.
Today, Pyrenees sourdough bread is still baked in brick ovens using the same recipes and techniques that Pierre Laxague brought with him in 1945. In fact, today’s sourdough “starter” is a direct continuation of the sourdough “starter” brought to the bakery by Pierre.
The Pyrenees Bakery is a seven-days-a-week operation, selling bread in its retail store at its East 21st Street location and delivering the bread to most of the major restaurants, delis, and grocery stores in the area. The bakery also continues to ship bread across the states to those who enjoy its distinctive flavor.
A Bakersfield Original — Taste the difference.
To learn more about this profiled business, please visit their website: http://www.pyreneesbakery.com/