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Bread and Chocolate: Beckmann's Bakery has no worries about its new second store--just a block from Starbucks.

The Dough Also Rises

The Beckmann's empire expands to Capitola, and a chocolate tasting takes over Chaminade

By Christina Waters

A SPARKLING NEW Beckmann's Bakery now occupies the former Le Boulanger space a few doors down from Trader Joe's near the Capitola Mall (3555G Clares St.). Lots of sleek blonde wood tables and chairs line one wall of Peter Beckmann's new bakery/coffeehouse. Behind glass are the sensuous pastries, fresh-baked breads and deeply fulfilling cakes, strudels and cookies that have made the West Side Beckmann's such a fixture over the years.

"The chance to open a new bakery came up six months ago," Beckmann told me last week, "and it looked like a good opportunity."

Many would consider it more like a major challenge, opening a bakery and espresso cafe a block away from Starbucks. But for those who like their coffee independently brewed and their scones made on-site, Beckmann's is now in the neighborhood.

Beckmann, a native of Heidelberg, Germany, isn't concerned about Starbucks' proximity. "We bake our own pastries and bread, and we also have our own, very good coffee--so we have a lot more to offer."

Not only can you enjoy a textbook cappuccino at the new Capitola shop, but you can also take home fresh francese bread and sourdough rolls baked on the premises. "We didn't want to compromise our quality, so we started baking in the new location as well as at Mission Street, says Beckmann." While many of us know Beckmann's as a place to swill lattes with a fragrant lemon currant scone, the company actually does most of its business selling to grocery stores up and down the Bay Area--"from Big Sur to Walnut Creek."

After living in Santa Cruz for 18 years, Beckmann still considers it "one of the best places to live anywhere in the world." The baker wouldn't mind opening other bakeries in the future. "But we are very sensitive to our local competition--unlike some others, we wouldn't open a place across the street from another bakery." Beckmann's--across the street from the Capitola Mall--is open daily from 6:30am to 7pm.

Speaking of Starbucks ...

"I would love to sell to Starbucks," chocolatier Richard Donnelly told me last week. "But so far they haven't offered what I'm asking." The Santa Cruz-based confectionary artist admitted that the Starbucks people had called him and sent him an elaborate product questionnaire around the holidays. So we'll see if there ends up being any truth to the rumor that Donnelly Chocolates will soon be available at Starbucks stores across the country. Donnelly, whose chocolates are mail-ordered throughout the United States, also revealed that his Christmas sales were strong. "I sold less chocolate for more money--and that's fine with me." Duh.

... And Speaking Of Chocolate

Join Cabrillo College culinary instructor Stephany Buswell for a taste/talk about chocolate, and gelato genius Massimo Caporale of Gelato Paradiso for a--guess what?--chocolate tasting. Sponsored by the Slowfood Santa Cruz folks, the delicious event also provides a variety of hors d'oeuvres for those who like a savory before their sweets. It happens in the intimate Library Room at Chaminade, Saturday (Jan. 26) at 7pm. To find out if there's any room left, contact Carmen Tedesco at [email protected]. Prix fixe, $35 all inclusive.

Eco-evangelist John Robbins (The Food Revolution) headlines at the huge Bay Area Veg Fair--Feb. 9 from 9am to 6pm, free, at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The fair is dense with talks, demos, tastings and access to the latest science about the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. For gobs of hype, visit www.vegfair.com and make plans to attend the event. While you're there, stop at the Santa Clara Marriott and sample Bradley Ogden's stunning new restaurant, Parcel 104. But you must call ahead for a reservation: 408.970.6104.

Charlie Meehan, owner of the popular Seabright Brewery, emailed to tell me that the fun-loving beach-brewery just got a full liquor license. "In addition to our award-winning beer [World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival, California State Fair] we will be serving a full line of spirits including a top notch Well," Meehan assured me. Margaritas on the patio--sounds like a heady plan.

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From the January 23-30, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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