ENCINITAS — Delivering warm, homemade loaves of bread from the basket of her bike, Encinitas baker and small business owner Bartley Chavez is proof that old fashioned word-of-mouth, community support and hard work are still viable routes to success, even during COVID-19.
Baking from her own kitchen and delivering to the comfort and safety of her customers’ homes, Chavez says a modern mixture of social media and Encinitas’ strong community spirit is helping her bakery thrive during a pandemic which has sidelined so many other larger businesses.
Chavez’s business, Dee Bee’s Kitchen Table, specializes in handcrafted bread and seasonal baked goods, ranging between loaves of Fig Walnut to Rosemary and classic no-knead white bread.
Moving to Encinitas as a child, Chavez’s business is rooted in community and family. “The bakery is named after my grandma, Deanna,” Chavez said. “My grandpa used to call her Dee Bee.”
Initially, only baking bread for friends and family, Chavez’s road to business owner was organic. “All of a sudden, my family was always eating my bread and then friends wanted to try some and then I thought, maybe I should start selling this because people keep asking.”
With the passing of the California Homemade Food Act, known as “cottage food operations,” in 2013, the State allowed certain foods such as bread, pie, jam and dried foods to be made in private home kitchens and sold to consumers under limited conditions.
Upon creating her business, Chavez began baking for her own neighborhood, friends, and family and soon enough, Chavez was selling her baked goods at markets, on Instagram and in-person.
When the pandemic hit, much to her surprise, customers increased.
“I feel like I had more sales because people didn’t want to go to big restaurants or stores and have so many different hands on their food,” Chavez said. “I started baking more because people wanted more but also I was 7 months pregnant, couldn’t go anywhere and welcomed the distraction.”
Implementing county COVID regulations, Chavez began to offer multiple options for customers, contactless pick-up or delivery, often on her own bike.
“My daughter has not liked riding in the car since day one. We were looking for a different mode of transportation for her that would be more fun,” Chavez said. “We picked up an electric bike, piled the kids and bread in, and set-up contactless delivery for customers.”
According to Chavez, her top two selling loaves are Fig Walnut and Rosemary, however seasonal flavors such as Cinnamon Date, Pumpkin Pecan and recently Apricot, are also popular selling for $10 apiece.
Chavez believes during a season of statewide stay-at-home orders isolating people, a friendly face delivering a homemade loaf of bread (even if in a mask) can bring lightness to a person’s day, said Chavez. Customers happy to receive Chavez’s bread have taken to social media, sharing their deliveries and spreading the word- supporting local businesses is the way to go.
To purchase a loaf for either at-home delivery or contactless pickup, Dee Bee’s Kitchen Table can be found on Instagram.com at @deebeeskitchentable.