Superfan customer Laurel Meissner started working at Melinda’s Gluten Free Bakery seven years ago. The assistant baker was diagnosed with celiac disease at 13, so when she moved to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC, she regularly baked gluten-free cakes in the campus housing kitchen. A passion was sparked. The gluten-free facility is also peanut-free; and every item they sell is scratch made. Meissner’s many recommendations begin with the puff pastries—she calls them the “holy grail” of gluten-free baked goods due to their rarity. The cakes are popular, as well as the oven-baked donuts and red velvet cupcakes. But the bread is the top seller with varieties including white, honey oat and sourdough round. Other offerings include bagels, muffins and cookies.
Hours are Thursdays and Fridays, 7:30am-3pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, 8:30am-3pm. Meissner spoke about Melinda’s origins and why it’s such a special place.
How did you start working at Melinda’s?
LAUREL MEISSNER: I came in as a customer and could not believe the food was actually gluten-free. I tried a donut, and it was pretty embarrassing because I actually cried tears of joy at the front counter. After being a customer for a while, I saw a “help wanted” sign and have worked here ever since.
What is the philosophy at Melinda’s?
What we do here is a labor of love. A lot of our employees are suffering from the same condition as our customers, so we are especially sympathetic to the difficulty of finding safe food. Sharing food with others is a deep emotional need for humans and a core experience.
Melinda’s Gluten Free Bakery, 1420 41st Ave., Capitola, 831-316-5081; melindasbakery.com