For a place that appears to be so health conscious, Santa Monica sure buys a lot of desserts.
The city is full of bakeries, ice-cream shops and other business that specialize in selling sweets. There are currently 25 bakeries licensed to operate in Santa Monica and 17 ice cream/yogurt stores.
With all these options you would expect there to be a lot of competition. But according to several business owners that isn’t necessarily the case.
“The largest part of the business is the trade, like contractors, the yacht club, the beach club,” said owner of Caprice French Pastries, Jean-Louis Kippelen. “There is competition but we sell to another part of the market.” This idea of catering to different customer demographics seems to be a trend among many of Santa Monica’s dessert-centric businesses.
Johnny Rocco, the owner of Rocco’s Cheesecake sells his desserts to an entirely different part of the market than Kippelen. Rocco has cultivated a presence with the aid of his website and, most importantly, with Yelp. This has allowed him access to a large customer base that uses these online tools to satisfy their sweet tooth.
“Yelp has been really good, people are just raving about Yelp,” said Rocco. “90 percent of everybody new that comes in here comes in from Yelp. So what we like to do is we like to tell them that if you really liked this, do the next guy a favor and help him out by doing the Yelp thing too.” Rocco’s is also located across the street from Santa Monica College, which allows him to cater to the student demographic as well.
Another business that has found a different type of success is DK’s Donuts. DK’s has been a staple of the Santa Monica community for over thirty years, which has earned them a stable customer base that just won’t buy their baked goods anywhere else.
“We cater to the locals around the area,” said co-owner Mayly Tao. “We have people who’ve been coming here for over twenty years as a part of their daily routine.” DK’s is also open 24/7, which allows them access to certain customers that some bakeries might not be able to sell to.
“We have the late night crowd of all the drunk people. We get nurses who finish work late. We get people of all shapes and sizes.” If customers are not able to stop by DK’s in person, they also ship their donuts through services like GrubHub, sending them as far as Florida.
Photo credit: Nicholas Salazar