Business owner takes pastries on the road for at-risk customers

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ENCINITAS, Calif. – As many businesses have moved online to stay afloat during the pandemic, one local business owner is taking a nod from the past.

Hot croissants, pastry cakes and other French specialties have been for sale at the French Pastry Cafe in Encinitas for 14 years. Owner Isabelle Chambers said she’s been lucky to have support from the community during the pandemic, but she noticed some of her regulars dropping off.

“We have a lot of elderly, and because of COVID, not wanting to get out and following the rules — that’s how we decided to go to them,” Chambers said.

She came up with the idea of parking on neighborhood streets and selling her fresh-out-of-the-oven pastries from the back of her van.

“They are so thankful. It’s on Sunday morning, mostly. We might do it more if there’s a demand but the joy on their face — and they leave with their box — it’s such a great feeling,” she said.

The “street side delivery” option is brand new but Chambers said she’s already overwhelmed with requests.

“They say, ‘Come to me, come to me,’ and we care about our people. We’ve been alive 14 years here because of them, so if it’s a service we can give to our customer, why not?” she said.

It’s too early to tell if this new arm of her business will make up for lost revenue this year, but for now she feels she is selling much more than bakery goods. 

“It’s a lot of work I have to admit. It’s early morning and more than what we have been used to, but it’s very rewarding,” Chambers said. “It’s very pleasant to go meet and greet people and smile and chitchat with them.”

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