Local restaurant celebrates grand opening with charity fundraiser


By Kristina Houck

Locals celebrated the grand opening of a new sweet and savory pie shop on Jan. 25 with food and a fundraiser.

Located in Encinitas, Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon teamed up with See Beneath, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization that creates early

developmental tools for children with autism. Baker Elizabeth Harris has supported the organization since it was founded in 2012.

“I just think it’s such a creative, unique idea,” said Harris, who also owns Elizabethan Desserts, a pastry shop that opened in 2006.

See Beneath’s first product is an animated video titled “Aiko & Egor,” which follows a purple whale and an orange blowfish in their underwater adventures. The pilot episode focuses on object imitation, gross motor imitation and gesture imitation.

Gerin Gaskin, Casey Hoffman and Jim Turner launched See Beneath two years ago. At the time, Gaskin and Hoffman were working in the UCSD Autism Intervention Research Program as early childhood interventionists.

“We worked really closely with a lot of children who were labeled at-risk for autism under the age of 3,” Hoffman said. “We found that there aren’t a lot of autism-specific products for families and children out there. Families are trying to find anything that their child can enjoy while learning.”

Funds raised through donations and a silent auction at the grand opening of Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon will help the See Beneath team complete the first season of “Aiko & Egor.” The roughly 10-minute episodes will focus on a variety of developmental areas, such as preverbal language, expressive language, initiations, pre-academic and academic skills, play skills, social routines and more.

“People really liked the pilot episode and children seemed to really respond to it, so we’re working on a full six-episode season,” Gaskin said.

The See Beneath team has planned on co-hosting an event with Harris for months, Hoffman said.

Harris recently moved Elizabethan Desserts to a new location nearby and transformed her original bakery into a Western-themed space. From cherry to meatball, Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon specializes in whole sweet and savory pies.

“Elizabeth is just really inspiring because she’s such a powerful woman. She has these ideas and she makes them come true,” Gaskin said. “Betty’s is one of the coolest places in Encinitas. I love the décor and I love the feeling — and the pies are amazing. It’s just so wonderful to be able to celebrate Betty’s and See Beneath at this event.”

In addition to supporting See Beneath, Harris has been a longtime supporter of Mama’s Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that delivers free meals to San Diegans with HIV/AIDS or cancer. She participates in the organization’s annual Mama’s Day event and Mama’s Pie in the Sky Thanksgiving Bake Sale.

“I’m not a wealthy person, so it’s the way I can give back — through product and feeding people,” Harris said. “Even when you don’t have any money or you don’t have a lot of money, you can still give your time or you can still give your resources.”

Located at 155 Quail Garden Drive in Encinitas, Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

For more information about Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon, call 760-230-6781 or visit



For more information about Elizabethan Desserts, call 760-230-6780 or visit



For more information about See Beneath, visit