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Money and Business

As restaurants struggle, Santa Barbara bakeries are bustling

La Bella Rosa Bakery
Ryan Fish/KEYT

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - With indoor and outdoor dine-in service banned by California's regional stay at home order, restaurants have been forced to offer only take-out and delivery options.

The holiday season has been sweeter for bakeries on the South Coast, however. Even without the usual parties or events in 2020, the holiday season brought serious demand for pastries, cakes and other comfort food.

La Bella Rosa Bakery on Santa Barbara's Westside is one example, with neighbors stopping in constantly for treats and Mexican fare.

Hundreds of Rosca de Reyes cakes are being prepared there for Wednesday's celebration of Three King's Day, which is honored every year in Mexico and other Latin American countries on Jan. 6.

Owner Rosa Cardenas-Guajardo, La Bella Rosa's namesake, says the bakery is entering its 36th year in business. The Cardenas family owns bakeries from Carpinteria to Santa Maria.

“In general, from about Halloween through tomorrow, January 6th, is our busiest time of the year,” said cake decorator Andrea Mendoza, who is Rosa’s daughter. “And to be honest, it’s remained that way this year.”

Mendoza says masa, the dough made from fresh ground corn and a popular ingredient in tamales, was sold even more at the bakery in 2020 compared to the year before.

“We’ve always been a staple in the community anyways,” Mendoza said. “And so I think that because we’re open, people find comfort in the thing that they’re already familiar with.”

The family's cake shop next door is also staying busy with custom orders.

On the mesa, it's a similar story for The Little Things Bakery, which saw unexpectedly high demand for cookies during the holiday season.

“We made like small batches thinking it’s not gonna be super busy with COVID going on,” said Leah Hodson, who owns the bakery with Celia Figueroa. “But we just kept selling out and selling out. We would be working here overtime trying to get stuff done, get ready for the next day.”

Hodson says January business is already starting to pick up, with several wedding cake orders already coming in.

“Last year, no one really got married,” she said. “So now it’s kind of nice to see people kind of getting back into the swing of things. Even if it’s just a small wedding cake.”

Both bakeries can be found on 805 Local Links, along with restaurants, shops, hotels and other businesses that are open. There you can find hours, business details and what's being done to keep customers safe.

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Coronavirus / Health / Lifestyle / Santa Barbara - South County
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Ryan Fish

Ryan Fish is a reporter, sports anchor and forecaster for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Ryan, click here.

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