While numerous small businesses shut down during the COVID pandemic never to reopen, the Torrance Bakery of Gardena was one of the fortunate few that survived the pandemic shutdown and continue its 38-year legacy of baking cakes and other pastries for patrons near and far. Torrance Bakery, which has locations in Torrance and Gardena, experienced a 40 percent drop in business as a result of COVID. “Nobody was getting married,” said owner Kirk Rossberg. “We went from 60 wedding cakes a week to zero and decorated cakes went in the toilet as well. For those reasons we had to cut back hours.” In addition to cutting back on hours, Torrance Bakery utilized some of the savings it accumulated over its nearly 40 years in business as well as obtaining some PPE money which allowed Rossberg to retain 93 percent of his staff. With the coronavirus pandemic pretty much in the rearview
mirror, Torrance Bakery can continue doing what it does best which is to utilize the 103 employees it has to produce delicious cakes and other sweet treats. Rossberg said the shop’s Gardena location, which has been in operation for the past 15 years, started out at the Rolling Hills Plaza Shopping Center on Crenshaw and Pacific Coast Highway. Rossberg said that location was getting too expensive to maintain and so a move was in order. Gardena was chosen because of a bake shop that was there called Ishigo Bakery, which had recently closed but left all of the baking equipment and ovens intact. Rossberg said that since the space was already equipped as a bakery, he figured he would just buy all of the equipment and then rent the building from the landlord. Eventually, Rossberg bought the building which effectively doubled his shop space from the 3,000 square-foot location he had at the Rolling Hills Plaza to the 6,000 square-foot space he and his staff enjoy today. “We got twice the space for a little less rent,” Rossberg said. “The location also had its own parking.” What has made them so successful is that they have a great staff and some very dedicated bakers who are able to operate the two large ovens at the Gardena store, which can do about 50 full-sheet pans. A full-sheet pan measures 24-by-16 inches and typically has sides that are about one inch high. The Torrance location can only do 15 full sheet pans at one time “The main location that we have had for 37 years [in Torrance] was unable to keep up with the volume so we have more ovens at the Gardena location so we are able to do a little bit more production out of there as far as baking cakes which the other store wouldn’t be able to handle,” Rossberg said. The Gardena store was recently remodeled almost two months ago, receiving a new coat of paint, a new wood façade, and new signage. Rossberg said the shop’s biggest sellers are cookies that are made without flour, providing those who are interested with the closest thing that the shop has to a gluten-free product. Throughout their 38 years of existence, Torrance Bakery has enjoyed relationships with local South Bay-area companies such as Honda, Toyota, Exxon Mobil, Mattel, and Marriott Hotels. Torrance Bakery has also garnered numerous awards and accolades such as Modern Baking magazine’s 2007 National Retail Bakery of the Year, as well as being voted Best Bakery in Daily Breeze’s “South Bay’s Best” since 1993. The Torrance Chamber of Commerce gave the bake shop the Best Place to Work award and the California Small Business Award. For more information on the Torrance Bakery, please visit their website at www.torrancebakery.com.