By Claire Harlin
For Towne Bakery, what began as an unfortunate dilemma became possibly the greatest asset for the new business — as well as surrounding businesses at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center.
Last year, when owner Jason Sigala first set his eyes on a first-floor space on the lower west side of the mall, leasers denied him to prevent having ovens that would ventilate into the upstairs area in front of the Cinepolis movie theater. Sigala’s solution — to let the air flow through the front of the building onto the sidewalk — was a decision-changer, and it brought the gift of tantalizing smell to the Highlands.
“Everything we are baking you can smell as you walk by,” said Sigala, a Solana Beach resident. “On the Fourth of July we were baking pies and people stopped and just had to come in to see what we were baking.”
The traditional bakery, which opened just a little more than a month ago, may have a vintage American feel, but it’s different in that it stays open all day as opposed to the traditional, early bakery hours. And with continuous traffic at the Highlands, Sigala said customers have been coming in mornings, afternoons and evenings for coffee and sweets, such as pies, cakes, scones and cookies.
The inside of the shop smells of simplicity and nostalgia, with classic schoolhouse lights, vintage-style subway tiles and clean, blue and butter-colored wall menus.
“These days, more over-the-top is cool and unique, but I wanted to take it back to that level of comfort — comfort like rich chocolate and great frosting,” Sigala said. “I could have gone more modern, but I wanted to be classic.”
Sigala’s inspiration is derived, in part, from the decade he lived in Ohio, where he went to college. There, he remembers hand-picking large buckets of apples for $10 each and making a variety of sweet tooth-pleasing recipes out of them.
He’s not a professionally-trained pastry chef, but Sigala said he has always had a passion for baking, and has baked masterpieces since he was a child.
“I’m fortunate that my other passion is running and playing volleyball or tennis,” he said. “That way I can have my sweet side and it’s a nice balance.”
As he got older, Sigala continued baking more and more.
“I’ve gone through years of my friends telling me I should open a bakery,” he said. “I always bake for my kids’ classes and special events, and everyone said, ‘You know, you should sell these things.’”
Sigala added that he gets most enjoyment out of sharing, not eating.
“When someone makes something from scratch and puts thought into it, it’s so much more special and that’s the enjoyment I get from people every day.”
Towne Bakery is located at 12925 El Camino Real, Suite 205, Carmel Valley, 92130. For more information, visit www.townebakery.com or call (858) 794-7034.