By Hank Tester

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Bautistas, an immigrant family from Peru, have opened a John The Baker franchise in Davie. Everybody is involved in the effort to get the franchise up and running – just ask Jose Bautista, who rattles off all the players, “My mom, my dad, sister and brother.”

This is a story of facing down the COVID economic disaster that impacted restaurant owners nationwide.

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The Bautistas operated a successful Peruvian restaurant in the space located in the Plaza 7601 Strip Mall, where they prepared delicious dishes like Lomo Saltado.

Chrishell Bautista remembers, “We had to reduce hours, then after that we were having financial difficulties. You have two decisions: to have to sell and close and figure out what to do after.”

They closed. Then, what to do?

Along came the opportunity to open a John The Baker Franchise at the same Davie location.

John The Baker is well known in Broward County, especially for pizza and their signature garlic rolls.

The Bautista family turned out great Peruvian food, but could they do Italian in the very popular John The Baker tradition?

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The answer is yes, but it took five months of training and learning the traditional John The Baker family recipes.

John The Baker, John Scinicariello, and his son oversaw the training.

Gilmer Bautista became the pizza maker, and started from scratch practicing not with pizza dough but with a towel.

“I practiced first with a towel then the dough and now I am an expert,” said Gilmer.

The Bautista kids delayed their return to college to help their parents get the restaurant going. It’s that kind of spirit John The Baker was looking for to operate the third John The Baker restaurant in Broward.

Scinicariello told CBS4 Photojournalist Rafael Murciano, “With a family like this, they have same values we do, work ethic, these guys will work 20 hours a day without a problem and that what you need to do to be successful in this business.”

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It is a COVID comeback story, and the hope is the Bautista family has the recipe for success.