Bob’s Well Bread prepares for St. Patrick’s Day
With St. Patrick’s Day on the horizon, Bob’s Well Bread bakeries in Los Alamos and Ballard are gearing up for the holiday with Irish-inspired soda bread, roasted potato bread and a brand new pistachio croissant.
With influences from Parisian boulangeries and San Francisco bakeries, owner Bob Oswaks and his staff serve up baked classics aimed to please, such as their signature sourdough, French canale pastries, almond croissants and corn rye bread.
The bakery’s debut of the pistachio croissant in honor of St. Patrick’s Day presents a spin on the beloved almond croissant, pioneered by head baker Scott Smith.
Pre-orders for the Irish breads and pastries closed Monday, but the bakery will have a few extra batches of the delectable treats available in both stores for those who did not pre-order their goods. For those who did pre-order, the breads will be available for pick up between today and March 15.
Since the bakery’s Los Alamos opening nearly seven years ago, Bob’s Well Bread has become a staple in the Santa Ynez Valley for breads and pastries among tourists and locals alike. The bakery boasts a menu of breads, pastries and delectable breakfast and lunch options that take customers back to some of their fondest memories, Mr. Oswaks told the News-Press.
“People come in and say to me, ‘This croissant takes me back to Paris because it’s just so flaky and buttery,’ ” Mr. Oswaks said. “People have these amazing sense memories of what some of our signature items mean to them.”
Mr. Oswaks opened the bakery’s second location in Ballard just six months ago, hoping to reach a broader customer base from Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo. The Ballard bakery serves up the same items as its sister location in Los Alamos and has seen great success since its opening, even as December lockdowns threatened business.
“The community of the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Barbara County in general was overwhelmingly supportive of us during this second shutdown,” Mr. Oswaks said. “From people just ordering takeaway to adapting to curbside delivery, we implemented online ordering, (we saw) the amazing support of the community in buying gift cards over the holidays and that got us through to the other side.”
Since reopening outdoor dining in February, Mr. Oswaks said he has seen a fast bounce-back recovery at both locations thanks to loyal support from the community.
The growth of Mr. Oswak’s inaugural Los Alamos location is a testament to the owner’s passion for baking, for which he discovered later in life. The Los Alamos location came to fruition out of a dream the baker developed after shifting career paths almost a decade ago.
After spending several decades in the TV business and sitting as a top marketing executive for Sony Pictures, Mr. Oswaks found himself out of a job when the company downsized in 2011. As he thought about his next career move, Mr. Oswaks began experimenting with his wood-fired oven in the back of his Los Angeles home.
After a few weeks, he developed his own starter and began making bread every day, churning out delicious loaves of bread that just kept getting better.
“I just became a bit obsessed and a bit passionate about making bread,” Mr. Oswaks said.
His newfound passion soon had him dreaming of opening a bakery near his vacation home in the Santa Ynez Valley. After receiving training at the San Francisco Baking Institute, Mr. Oswaks made his dream a reality and opened the Los Alamos location of Bob’s Well Bread.
“All this time we’d had a house in the Santa Ynez Valley, a little vacation weekend place, and I just said to myself, ‘What if we got out of L.A. and moved up to the wine country full time and we had this charming little bakery in the wine country, servicing tourists and winemakers,’ ” Mr. Oswaks said.
Now with his Los Alamos and Ballard locations up and running post-COVID-19 lockdown, Mr. Oswaks said his bakeries are back on track and doing just as well as they were pre-shutdown.
“February came around, and we were back to where we were in October and November again.”