AUSTIN (KXAN) — When Jesús Martinez Becerra first came to the United States, he had $10 in his pocket and dreams for a brighter future.

What started with $10 and a dream transpired into a 32-year run as owner of south Austin’s La Mexicana Bakery, located at 1924 S. 1st St. On Feb. 16, the bakery will permanently close its doors.

After more than three decades in business, Becerra said his dreams have shifted elsewhere. He said he looks forward to this next chapter of his life, which he hopes to fill with plenty of travel and more time to focus on himself and his family.

“It’s the freedom that he really loved enjoying, working with a passion,” his daughter Bianka Lopez said, translating for Becerra.

When Becerra first came to the U.S., he said his focus was on earning $1,000 before returning to his homeland of Mexico. After making $2,000, he said he began seeing a life for himself here and one with ample opportunities to provide to his family.

  • La Mexicana Bakery will close its south Austin location on Feb. 16. Jesús Martinez Becerra has owned and run the business for nearly 32 years. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • La Mexicana Bakery will close its south Austin location on Feb. 16. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • La Mexicana Bakery will close its south Austin location on Feb. 16. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
  • La Mexicana Bakery will close its south Austin location on Feb. 16. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

After earning that first $2,000 in the U.S., Becerra said he celebrated with the purchase of a sports car. Thirty-two years and 12 sports cars later, he said he feels pride for the work he’s done and the community established through La Mexicana Bakery.

Becerra said he chose to retire as opposed to passing along the business to a family member due to the pressures associated with running the bakery. Being a baker is no easy task, he said; it requires a lot of commitment and many long hours. With that also comes juggling preparations for all the different kinds of pastries sold, as well as customer demand.

But that same customer demand is what has kept the doors open for 32 years, he added. On Feb. 16, La Mexicana Bakery plans to celebrate in high fashion, distributing free pastries and hosting a community party.

It’s a small thank you, he said, amid three decades’ worth of gratitude.