After almost 40 years of serving the island with high quality bread and pastries, Guam Bakery is expanding their horizons by opening a new manufacturing plant along Bello Road in Dededo. The new plant will allow the bakery to better accommodate requests from local residents and businesses.
There was never any plan to grow as big as we did. The original plan for my parents was to provide for the family … to better our standard of living.
“There was never any plan to grow as big as we did,” said Henri Oftana, son of Tim Of tana, the bakery’s president. “The original plan for my parents was to provide for the family… to better our standard of living.” The family-owned and operated bakery now serves a number of restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets.
The new plant boasts automated bakery equipment that will increase the bakery’s rate of production. “At the old bakery, it would take an hour and a half to make 200 pounds of bread,” said Oftana. The new equipment solves that issue. The amount of bread made at the old bakery in a six-hour day can be produced at the new facility in an hour. “Now, with the same amount of employees, we can make much more in a shorter period of time,” he said.
In addition, the new production facility guarantees that customers are buying bread that was baked in a clean and safe environment. “Because we’re completely enclosed, that diminishes the amount of infestation from foreign material,” said Oftana. The sealed doors and concrete floors keep unwanted materials and organisms out of the baking area.
“It became apparent that we needed to get this done because quality requirements are stricter,” he said. As an additional sanitary feature, Guam Bakery randomly passes packages of buns through a metal detector.
For added protection, the bakery’s new layout was designed to create flow and organization. This is important for individuals with allergies because it decreases the risk of cross-contamination and accidentally mixing wrong ingredients.
Guam Bakery currently supplies their products to numerous hotels and restaurants—including McDonald’s and Wendy’s—but Oftana hopes that they can regain customer confidence from locals.
“It was at the point where we didn’t have the capability to provide for everyone’s requests … but now we can,” he said. “Hopefully, we can earn back the trust from people who have gone away because we couldn’t meet demand. We want to provide a quality product for people, that’s always been our goal.”
Starting a business is always a risk, but the risk was even greater for the owners of Guam Bakery. Tim and Emily Oftana were two non-bakers who moved to Guam in 1973 with the intention of starting a bakery. He was a chemical engineer, and she was an accountant. They now own one of the most successful bakeries on island.
Their son, Henri Oftana, is still unsure why they chose to open a business in such an unfamiliar field. “The place he was working when he met my mom was a bakery café, but I’m not really sure why a bakery,” he said. “But it worked… they took a risk and it worked.”
Guam Bakery had its humble beginnings in the early 1970’s, when Tim Oftana started making fresh pan de sal. “When I was kid, we used to have a station wagon… my parents would make pan de sal and my father would go knocking door-to-door to sell it,” recalled their son, Henri Oftana.
My parents have an old world sense of getting things done no matter what. We owe the success of the bakery to my parents and their work ethic.
Soon, it became a family affair. The Oftana children started working at the bakery at a young age. “All of the kids complained about not having toys … we couldn’t play,” said Henri Oftana. “I was working in production, making bread, while my sisters watched the store and decorated cakes.”
Their teamwork paid off. After just one year of opening their first location in 1973, the bakery moved from Tamuning to its current location in Dededo.
In 1978, the bakery started supplying their products to McDonald’s, the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants. The local bakery also began supplying Wendy’s in the 1980’s. “His college professor encouraged him, he said, ‘ You know, if you’re going to work for someone else, you can only go so far’,” said Henri Oftana. “But if you are in your own
business, the potential is unlimited.”
The road to success was not always easy, especially during the economic downturn. But owner Tim Oftana remained strong. “I think what sets us apart is that we are a family run business that is very much rooted in faith,” said the bakery’s president.
“That faith is what has kept us going through the years.”
Tim Oftana is grateful for the support the bakery’s received from the community and strives to give back whenever the opportunity arises. He understands the importance of family events and personally ensures that quality products are created in a timely manner.
“My parents have an old world sense of getting things done no matter what,” said Henri Oftana. “We owe the success of the bakery to my parents and their work ethic.”
Guam Bakery has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a door-to-door bread service. It is now a full-blown wholesale and retail bakery, offering everything from fresh baked breads to decorated cakes. “No one wants to be both a wholesale and retail bakery because it’s a hassle,” said Henri Oftana. “But my parents being who they are, they figured there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”
In addition to their delicious pastries, the baker y now offers custom designed cakes. “A lot of times customers will come in with their own design, but I will also try to make it my own so it isn’t a complete copy,” said Christine Oftana Rosario, daughter of Tim Oftana, the bakery’s president.
Her educational background is in Philosophy and Theology, but she made her way back to the bakery as a cake designer. “Everybody is slowly and surely coming back to the family business,” said her brother. “It’s what we know … we’ve done it for so long.” Despite having been in the business for so long, the Oftana’s never become complacent. “I like to challenge myself when it comes to my custom cakes,” said Rosario. “I am part of people’s lives, their weddings, their child’s christenings, their birthdays … so it’s a big deal for me and I take each project personally.”
Rosario gets her design inspiration from everything around her. “Sometimes a particularly beautiful stationary or card will inspire me… and then I just play,” she said.
Their fun designs include a gold purse cake, a beach-themed cake in an elegant sea blue, and a realistic hamburger cake complete with tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese.
Guam Bakery offers a delectable variety of cake flavors, including chocolate, strawberry chiffon, and red velvet. With eight choices for cake flavors and eleven options for fillings, customers are guaranteed a decadent cake customized to suit their taste buds. Yet, Guam Bakery is not limited to these flavors and are always willing to try something new. Just ask and you shall receive!
Cakes and cookies may be personalized to each customer’s liking, but one seasonal item stays the same. The bakery’s famous silvanas keep customers coming back year after year.
“We used to start selling the silvanas about two weeks before Thanksgiving until two weeks into January,” said Henri Oftana. “But this year, we’re most likely going to start making the silvanas in October.”
The handmade silvanas are the perfect holiday treat. During the Christmas season, the bakery has freezers full of the traditional crunchy, creamy, frozen cookie.
“People have asked my parents how to make the silvanas, and we joke that you have to marry someone in the immediate family first,” said Rosario. Silvana lovers are in luck. “There is still one unmarried sister in the family,” she said. “The grandkids are still too young, sorry.”