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Check Out James Lazaros’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to James Lazaros.

Hi James, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
It all started a long time ago with the Red Sox Baseball Team! Yes, I know it’s a weird start to this story. My father-in-law fell in love with the town of Winter Haven, he would visit every year to watch the Red Sox Spring Training Games. After a while he moved his family from Puerto Rico to Winter Haven and decided to purchase a building and turn it into a bakery! Long story short, years later my wife and I met in Boston. We fell in love and got married! About a year after we got married, we were looking for a change and decided to move down to Florida. At that time, I was a sous chef for a multi-million dollar company. We had a comfortable life in Boston but decided we needed a challenge! We picked up our life and started to run my father in law’s bakery in Winter Haven. After a while, we knew that the best decision for the bakery was to move to Lakeland. We found our current location and fell in love with the story behind the building! It had been home to a family run hardware store for the past 54 years and we were excited to honor that legacy by opening our family business there! We opened our doors in March 2018 with a focus on quality, not quantity. That focus continues to this day! We are committed to making an amazing product and having fun while we do it! We are unapologetic for our style and try to improve on it every day!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
I would never describe anything in our lives as being smooth, there are always bumps. We struggled to open our doors and found some resistance along the way. Everyone wants you to fit into a box and from the very first day we have refused to be put in any box. Many want everything to be black or white. Our concept can be hard to grasp because we thrive in the grey zone! We do everything La Imperial Way and that is a style that is very unique to us! We are original in everything we do, we do not concern ourselves with sticking to a certain cuisine or being authentic in any way. We give our team the freedom to be creative and we believe the best, most delicious ideas are born when you step outside of your comfort zone! We found our stride during the COVID-19 pandemic, it helped us focus on what was working and what wasn’t.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We specialize in Comfort Food with a Puerto Rican Twist! We like to serve good, home cooking! The kind that sticks to your bones! We are inspired by the dishes our grandmothers used to cook but we always put a spin on them! We are known for our Cuban Sandwiches and Guava and Cheese Pies! Those are our best sellers and the two items we are most proud of! Everything we serve is made from scratch and we are very proud of that! We enjoy food and like to keep our customers on their toes with our weekly Chef’s Specials! We serve a melting pot of cuisines and we love stepping outside of the expected!

What’s next?
We are always changing and adapting! We believe that is the only way to improve and become better at our craft! Believe it or not, we are already planning this year’s Thanksgiving Catering Package, which sells out every year! We are always working on creative, delicious additions to our menu!

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