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Leelin Family of Cerritos Breaks From Goldilocks After 38 Years

Mendrei Leelin (center) with wife Cecile(left) and Consul General Hellen Barber de la Vega during the grand opening of Leelin Bakery & Cafe in Eagle Rock.  Rico Dizon Photo

Mendrei Leelin (center) with wife Cecile(left) and Consul General Hellen Barber de la Vega during the grand opening of Leelin Bakery & Cafe in Eagle Rock. Rico Dizon Photo

By Rico Dizon

Exit Goldilocks. Enter Leelin Bakery & Café.

Such a bold move in business management – all because of a new marketing thrust that is aimed at meeting head-on the significant shift in the store’s customer demographics.

“The changing habits and needs of our growing number of consumers made us rethink the future,” revealed Mendrei Leelin, President of Leelin Enterprises, who is principally behind the six store chain operations in Southern California since it was handed down to him by his father Manuel Leelin almost 38 years today.

“It is a difficult decision borne out after one and a half years of painstaking evaluations, analysis and planning,” he added. “Now, we have the blessings of my father’s younger sisters running the main office in San Francisco after we sat down with them, discussed our plan in the region and reached an amicable agreement.”

The Leelin family has been residents of Cerritos for the past four decades.

The total concept of the new Leelin Bakery & Café comprises place renovations, enhancement in table and food presentations, and several new product developments—all geared towards drawing the mainstream consumers as well as maintaining the core customers of the store.

The store ambiance will proudly depict the rich historical and cultural heritage of the Philippines, the owners ‘country of origin. Even in their coffee, the owners are introducing indigenous Arabica that is grown in the Cordilleras and Liberica cultivated by the Mangyans of Mindoro.

The store branch in Eagle Rock recently held its grand opening with Philippine Consul General Hellen-Barbers De La Vega as special guest. The other stores will follow suit with the one in Cerritos scheduled on April 8. Leelin Bakery & Café is also present in Panorama City, West Covina, Vermont in LA and North Hills.

The marketing of Leelin Bakery & Café will be launched via media mix in print, television and social media. Just in TV alone, we have lined up for TFC,ANC and Lifestyle a total of 191 exposures every month plus occasional segments buys that lasts three minutes per showing. They just cut their new and catchy jingle sung by Lani Misalucha, the much-acclaimed Filipino-American diva based in Las Vegas. Soon to be implemented is the store ad campaign directed at the mainstream consumers that goes, “For a Taste of the Philippines, Come & Visit Leelin.”  For its traditional Filipino ad comes a fresh tagline that is inherent of Filipino hospitality, “Kumain kana ba?” ( Care for Something to eat?) “Eventually, we are look forward to seeing lines in our stores,” mused Mendrei.

 Back to the reasons behind the huge transformation after almost 8 years in the business.

“If nobody is stepping up, who will?” stressed  Michael Leelin, the company’s CFO and  son of Mendrei. “Every time me and my peers enter the old restaurant, we feel intimidated, we feel lost among the many first and second generations of Filipino customers.”  “We cannot connect with the food and the surrounding. I think what is lacking is distinct food presentation plus a complimenting ambiance. “Filipinos are among the biggest eaters in various multi-national restaurants. “Yet our Asian neighbors and including Americans seldom patronize Filipino restaurants.”

The big void noted in their customer demographics prompted the owners to implement a brand overhaul and follow the path toward food service and dining that is sensitive to the individual needs of its customers. Asked how their core customers who are mostly the baby boomers react to the change, Menard Leelin, Mendrei’s younger brother who manages the manufacturing and production side of the company, volunteered his own observation – “they are momentarily in the grieving stage but pretty soon they will get over with it and moved on with life as usual.”

 The Leelin company is also involved in wholesale supplying not only popular Filipino supermarkets but including well-known mainstream retailers such as Ralphs and Albertson’s among others with product lines under private labels. In charge of these operations is Mendrei’s younger sister Carmela Leelin, Vice President for Product Development.

  • Anthony Figueroa says:

    To Miss Maria Anselo del Rosario :
    If you’re in Arizona you can go to Casa Filipina Bakeshop and Restaurant. 3531 W Thunderbird Rd Phoenix AZ 85053
    602 942-1258
    The best. filipino Restaurant and Bakery in Arizona, produced by professional Bakers and Pastry chefs.

  • minimit says:

    I am saddened that Goldilocks changed its name in California considering Goldilocks is already an instituion and a “way of life” of many Filipinos in the US. It probably changed its name because the sales of their product continously declined over the past years and they want to revive the business. Personally, I think, one major reason why its sales declined was that Goldilocks products were much more expensive than the other goodies compared to other generic Filipino or Asian bakeshops. Though, Goldilocks perfected their taste and in making the best bakery treats, Filipinos in the US resorted to buy these goodies from much less expensive bakeshops, but, with good quality too. This is based on my own experience. I think, when people think of the name Goldilocks, they associate it to being “expensive”. It became a stigma among the Filipinos in the US. I hope Lee Lin company would do further studies about this matter, and maybe bring back the Goldilocks name but promote lower cost of their outstanding bakeshop products.

  • Dante Gutierrez says:

    Goldilocks did NOT change its name. It is only the branch store in Cerritos that changed its name to Leelin Bakery & Cafe. This was because some family members of the Leelin clan had some ideas to change the way Goldilocks has been reaching out to Filipinos & non-Filipinos alike.

    The aunts who started the company some 38 years ago however did not want the change suggested by the brothers Mendrei & Menard, and so they (the brothers) had to go their separate ways. They kept the shop and changed it to Leelin Bakery & Cafe.

    On other hand, the aunts found another location in Artesia, and opened the doors for the new Goldilocks next door to Seafood City, Jollibee & Valerio’s Bakery.

  • juan says:

    aaaaand it’s closed down.. great job guys!