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Meet Mari Rubio of Casa Gioia in Kendall

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mari Rubio.

Mari, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I graduated from Johnson & Wales North Miami campus in 2012. I did an Associates in Culinary Arts, Bachelor’s in Food Service Management & a Concentration in Events & Sales Management. Ever since I was 8 years old I knew I wanted to be a chef, however by the time I graduated college I was questioning myself if this was really the area I belonged to. That year I went back home (Dominican Republic) for the holidays where I spent two months on “vacation”. By week 2 I was bored out of my mind and decided to try out a pecan pie recipe. (Please note that I really, really, reaaaally disliked baking due to all of its science and precision and I am one of THE most impatient humans you’ll ever encounter). Turns out this pecan pie was delicious and everyone went crazy for it. So, with the help of one of my best friends we started selling sweets for the holidays and it was quite a success. Come January I had to come back to Miami and start adulting. That was hard. I couldn’t find a job. I applied for positions in the kitchen and as an event planner and nothing. It turns out it worked for the best. I remembered how much people loved my stuff back home so I started baking some pecan pies to sell from home.

One thing led to the other and soon I found myself (along with my mom and aunt) searching for a company name and opening an incorporation. We solely relied on word of mouth and referrals since we didn’t have much capital for marketing and in less than a year we needed to find a commissary to operate from in order to comply with demand.

We’ve done tons of private labelling for some of Miami’s biggest catering companies and restaurants. Also, we worked side by side with Chef Alberto Cabrera from Little Bread and did most of the desserts menu for that restaurant. We did some goodies for the Roca Brothers and their staff when they did their world tour after being named “best restaurant in the world”, fundraisers with Ted Kennedy.

Right now we are still operating from a commissary and hoping to open a storefront in the super near future.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nope- anything BUT smooth. It’s been a sweet, bumpy and turbulent road.

Let’s start with the fact that I opened this business when I was 22 years old. I had no baking experience, no entrepreneurial skills, and no clear vision of what I wanted, barely knew the market and simply put: I had no freaking clue of what I was doing. So let’s start with that. But you know what they say: mistakes are the best teachers. And boy, have I learned. Just as Casa Gioia has been slowly growing and evolving as a business, so have I as a person and a professional.

That being said, being a 22 year old Dominican girl with no prior experience and no “was-mentored-by-such-and-such-famous-chef” background, it was twice as hard for me to get people to trust me -especially those in the industry. I had to prove myself constantly, because at that point I was just a self-taught home baker hoping for people to like my stuff. I have been very fortunate in finding people that believed in me from the beginning that have helped alleviate those bumps while others have literally shut doors in my face for being too young and a woman. What is it with people underestimating us??

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Casa Gioia – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Casa Gioia literally translates to ‘house of joy’ in Italian and we are a “bake to order” business we specialize in desserts and all orders must be pre-ordered either via phone, email or through our website. We think this is a pretty cool concept because we are guaranteeing the customer that their product is as fresh as it gets. Most of the time the product is still warm by the time they receive it. You can pick up your order in our kitchen or we offer delivery to most of Miami Dade.

People often have a misconception that we don’t sell to the public, but we do! Like, anyone can order, it’s not only wholesale. You feel like eating a delicious Guava Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting? Call me! Do you want to know what it’s like to eat a full bag of 8 Nutella Chocolate Chip cookie? You are our kind of person! Want to be mind-blown by something called Zucchini Bread? We’ve got you covered. Feel curious about herbs in your sweets? Our Rosemary Pecan Shortbread will blow your mind. Do you want to spice up your party and surprise your guests with a killer dessert station? We do that too.

What I am most proud of as a company is how far we’ve come. Against all odds and navigating through that turbulent road we’re still here fighting and looking forward to share joy one bite at a time.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
No big changes, just keep improving what we’re doing and becoming a better company. We definitely want a storefront.

Pricing:

  • Nutella Chocolate Chip – Bag of 8 $8.45 plus tax
  • Guava Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – $20 plus tax
  • Zucchini Bread – $12 plus tax
  • Rosemary Pecan Shortbread – Bag of 10 $8.00 plus tax

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageMIA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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