Celina’s Biscochitos was born when the economy slumped and the housing market collapsed. Although those conditions may not seem conducive to launching a business, Celina had a plan. Prior to launching the business in 2010, Celina Aldaz-Grife was a well-established real estate agent for 15 years. The joy of baking and cooking was a way to relax and learn new things, really just a hobby.
A Biscochito Business is Born
Celina enjoyed trying to make new recipes during her spare time, she decided to try to emulate her Grandma Maggie’s famous Biscochitos one Christmas. This was a daunting endeavor, because Celina’s Grandma Maggie was known for her culinary skill. People would come from across the state to sit in her kitchen and savor the delectable dishes she served.
Though Celina was up to attempting her grandma’s recipe, she wasn’t convinced that she would be able to replicate the light texture and delectable flavor. However, the process of making them provoked nostalgia. She enjoyed reminiscing about the time spent with her grandmother in the kitchen, eating her food and enjoying her company. Celina felt confident that she could replicate the biscochitos with practice. She proceeded to make them for friends, family, and some of her real estate clients.
Biscochito dough can be touchy. One wrong move and you will mess-up the whole batch. For years prior to starting her business Celina made them en masse every year for Christmas. She realized that she had mastered her grandma’s magic touch when she found out that the cookies she dropped off to her family on Christmas Eve were being hoarded, because they didn’t want to share. Then family members, friends, and clients wanted to purchase them so they could give them as gifts for the holidays. At that time she had a great job, didn’t have the time, and didn’t need the extra income so she declined.
Economic Instability Spurs Entrepreneurialism
Celina’s financial fortunes changed with the collapse of the housing market in 2008. Her job and finances were in jeopardy, providing impetus to indulge her passion for baking. Over the years of making biscochitos for friends and family, she realized that she enjoyed it more than real estate. Delivering cookies on Christmas Eve was a way of delivering joy. She began talking to her husband about making the business official. Celina and David Grife obtained their business license in 2010. They worked out of a shared commercial kitchen facility in the South Valley of Albuquerque.
The South Valley Economic Development Center allowed them to launch their business without the startup costs associated with overhead. The business thrived and Celina gave up her real estate license to focus on fulfilling her dream and making her grandma’s biscochitos for the masses. With the support of her husband, David Grife, and mom, Mona Morris, Celina’s Biscochitos became a reality.
A New Spin on the Classic
As the business flourished, Celina became restless. She wanted to try something new, to create something different. She attended a craft show. Her booth was across from a couple selling red and green chile peanut brittle. Shw wondering if she could do the same thing with Biscochitos. After a bit of experimentation, she mastered the Red Chile Biscochito. It was a hit. Based on that success, she created additional flavor twists, like Green Chile Pecan, Lemon, and Chocolate Chip.
David and Celina decided that they have worked in the shared commercial kitchen long enough and it was time to take a stand on their own with a shop and commercial kitchen of their own in 2014. They found the ideal location on 4th Street, in the North Valley of Albuquerque. The space was 700 square feet, which isn’t large, but it is in a wonderful neighborhood with steady traffic. They invested a little elbow grease to make the space work and the business took off. They found a great staff, with family providing additional support. By the end of 2016 they needed more space for baking, inventory and processing orders. Fortunately, the space next door was available, which allowed them to expand to three times the size without relocating.
Celina’s Biscochitos continues to grow every year, sharing the joy of biscochitos with regular customers, as well as introducing New Mexico’s state cookie to people who have never had one before. They sell the traditional family recipe from Grandma Maggie, which involves hand-making and hand-cutting each cookie individually to ensure the highest quality and exceptional flavor. Additionally, they offer flavorful twists on the original recipe, like green chile pecan, red chile, lemon, cocoa chocolate chip, blue corn pinon, lemon lavender, mimosa, maple bacon, jam filled, chocolate almond filled, and cranberry walnut. When experimenting with new flavors, Celina’s motto is “if we can’t taste a traditional biscochito in each one of our products, it’s no longer a biscochito.”