Baked Bear off to roaring good start at Pacific Highlands Ranch Village in Carmel Valley


The line stretched down the sidewalk at Pacific Highlands Ranch Village for the June 26 opening of the Baked Bear.

Inside, owners Shane Stanger and Robbie Robbins happily enjoyed the calm before the storm in their bright new shop, scrumptiously scented by fresh-baked cookies.

“This is the first one where we haven’t felt stressed at all,” Stanger said of their fourth Baked Bear location opening.

The reduced stress comes from the confidence that their staff is well-prepared and their operation has been fine-tuned — it’s as smooth as their butter pecan ice cream. Not to mention the comfort of having a built-in customer base that has come to love their other locations and their presence at local school and community events.

As Stanger is speaking, one of the Baked Bear’s loyal young customers has his nose pressed to the glass of the door. Stanger and Robbins briefly consider opening early to accommodate the crowd. They decide to let the excitement continue to build.

The Torrey Pines graduates opened their first shop in Pacific Beach in 2012 and have since expanded to a spot in Petco Park and a shop in La Costa, which opened in February.

At Baked Bear, diners build customized ice cream sandwiches, choosing from flavors such as birthday cake, coffee, peanut butter and strawberry cheesecake, and using cookie selections such as chocolate chip, funfetti, red velvet and white chocolate macadamia nut.

Ice cream can be sandwiched between brownies or doughnuts, or scooped into a waffle cone or Bear Bowl — a warm chocolate chip cookie bowl.

Whipped cream, sprinkles and hot fudge are among the toppings that can be added.

Stanger said they were bummed not to open while kids were still in school across the street at Canyon Crest Academy, but a summer opening worked just as well.

With promises of free T-shirts and catered ice cream sandwich parties to the first folks in line, the crowd outside grew early. Danielle Salim, a Del Mar resident, got in line at 12:30 p.m. with her bulldog, Crinkles, to await the 2 p.m. opening.

She said she is a big Baked Bear fan and was excited to have a new location so close to home.

For Stanger and Robbins, opening a business in their hometown was just as special.

“We feel very connected to this store,” Stanger said. “We grew up less than two miles away.”