The Backdoor to Success

Reopened local bakery carries on and rises again.

By: Eddie Rivera, News Editor

It’s mid-afternoon at the newly re-opened Back Door Bakery Cafe, and the customers keep arriving.

“It’s really been like this since we opened,” said owner Deborah Goodall, who somehow finds a few minutes between greeting guests, answering her cell phone, and directing her staff, to sit down for a chat. She settles lightly at the table, ready to spring up again. And she will. Though she has now been baking for close to thirty years, it was actually never her childhood goal  to be a baker, she told The Foothill Record. “I was working as a temporary cashier in a bakery,” she remembered, “and when the main baker left, they asked if I was interested in trying it, and that was that.” She fell in love with all of it.

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In 1989, she was selling baked goods to local restaurants from her mid-Wilshire apartment, until the health department stepped in and put a stop to it. That’s when she decided to actually sell her baked creations directly to the public, opening up a bakery hear her home in Silver Lake, which she operated for close to 18 years. Then, in 2008, her landlord pushed her out of her working space, and the bakery business took three years off. She raised her children, and stopped getting up at 3 in the morning every morning. At least for a while.

She and her husband eventually decided to move to the Foothills, when she noticed that a lot of her former customers were doing the same thing.“It was really funny,” she recalled. “ I was driving down the street near my house, and I saw this tattooed couple with horses, and I recognized them, and I thought, “Oh my god, I can’t believe who it is!” And then she thought, “You know, we could probably open up here.” And so they did.

She essentially had two locations on Foothill before the current one (where the Starbucks moved out of), She opened a small bakery at the northern end of Foothill, then raised a little money ($15,000) on Kickstarter, to move to a new and larger location. “Eleven months later,” she said, “It all burned to the ground.” It was Mothers Day 2014.

 

She walked away with an insurance settlement, tried to work out a plan with her landlord,  and just waited for Starbucks to move out. It took a year for it all to come to pass, and now, the lines form early each morning. As we chat, a gentleman approaches. “Hello,” he said, haltingly. “I noticed your paintings on the wall…?” Yes, she explains readily, art is rotated every month. Her husband, a writer and comedian, handles all of that. The gentleman shows her a few quick sketches on his iPhone. They are startlingly good. “Come in and talk to him,” she says.  “We’d love to have your work here, these are beautiful.”

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And there is more. She directs an order to its proper location. Her husband and children arrive. A young person approaches, needing a job application. (They’ll probably hire four or five more employees before the end of January, to add to the staff of 26 they already have.) This is the life of a successful businessperson who’s put her stake in the community.

Meanwhile, the cafe is open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Soon there will be a beer and wine license. Music is already being performed there occasionally, and plans are in place to build a portable stage and kids’ area. Back in her production kitchen, she shows off her kitchen prep staff, busy making bread doughs and starters for the week. “We make our own mayonnaise, our own mustard, our own ketchups and all the sauces,” she says, proudly. “We make everything we make here.”

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She offers us a “chili caramel” latte (not for the timid), and says, “You know when I really knew I loved baking? I was working on a cake once a long time ago, and I made a mistake. I told my supervisor and he said, ‘Just put a rose on it.’ And that’s when I realized, when things go wrong, you just put a rose on them, and you move forward.”

Clearly, that’s what she has done here.

 

The Back Door Bakery Cafe is at 8349 Foothill Blvd, Sunland-Tujunga, CA. (818) 353-2233.


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