A 15-year Santa Monica resident originally from Lithuania has achieved a lifelong dream of opening a local bakery.
“It has been a dream,” Raimonda Gintaliene, owner and head baker of Uppers Cafe & Bakeshop said. “Dreams come true.”
Gintaliene and her husband spent four years walking around Santa Monica everyday after work looking for the right place to open their dream cafe and when they passed the building on Broadway, both of them knew they’d found the perfect place.
Uppers Cafe & Bakeshop officially opened their doors on Sept. 15 in the building formerly occupied by Back on Broadway but it was not an easy transition. Gintaliene had to wait an entire year before opening due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Permits and approval were difficult to secure due to everyone working from home and working entirely by email also slowed the process.
However, she knew opening a bakeshop in Santa Monica would bring her true happiness and working through the pandemic-era process was worth her time.
“I fell in love with Santa Monica the minute I got here,” she said. “Our kids went to the local schools and I said that I am not going to move anywhere else, I’m going to stay here. It’s our home.”
The cafe sells coffee, teas, pastries and cakes. They also serve breakfast and lunch items like avocado toast, sandwiches and salads.
“Our favorite [breakfast item] is Uppers brioche bun,” She said. “We try to give our customers healthy food that is prepared right away. We do not freeze or have any fried stuff so everything is prepared freshly. It’s our goal to give Santa Monica the same food that we cook at home.”
Gintaliene, a Lithuanian native said the store always puts their European touch on their items and that makes them standout compared to other bakeries.
“My cakes, they are not that sweet,” she said. “So they’re not so sugary and this way, you can taste actual cake and not just sugar.”
However, Gintaliene bakes American favorites like red velvet and confetti cake as well.
Gintaliene is the only baker but she is looking for an experienced barista amongst other staff members and like many businesses, she has had trouble finding employees over the past month. As of now, the cafe employs four staff members.
Gintaliene says business during her first week of opening has been going O.K. and mentioned that the cafe has outdoor seating so patrons can enjoy Santa Monica weather and feel COVID-19 safe at the same time.
“You can’t find many cafes or food places where you can sit outside on Broadway,” she said.
The cafe is located at 2024 Broadway and is open six days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.