Open for just seven months, Pushkin’s Bakery has met with such pent-up demand for its gluten-free baked goods that owners Danny and Olga Turner are already turning a profit on their business.
And, the Turners plan to be selling their goodies at Whole Foods in Davis by October.
“We were really worried about cross-contamination,” Olga Turner told me. “We can’t be with other products in the bakery. They know that, and we know that. We didn’t know how we were going to work together, but they are allowing us to install our own display case in their bakery. It’s going to be just gluten-free Pushkin’s products, and we’re going to deliver daily.”
The Turners are not bakers by training, and neither expected to open such a business when they set out for college. Olga Turner earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance and risk management from Sacramento State, while Danny graduated from the University of California, Davis with degrees in psychology and English.
They changed their diet, though, after Danny came down with a mystery illness that frequently left him weak and in pain. It was years before he was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.
My colleague Blair Anthony Robertson captured the Turners’ struggle in a story last March.
Since then, the Turners have added an employee and soon will be acquiring a delivery van. It’s been years since many of Pushkin’s new customers have had the luxury of being able to walk into a bakery and pick out whatever they want, Olga Turner said, so they’re excited when they walk through the door at 1820 29th St.
Ambrosia to expand on K
Pat Murakami doesn’t know how the rumor started that her Ambrosia Café is closing at 1030 K St., but she wants to put it to rest.
“Customers are coming in and asking our staff if we’re closing,” she said. “… And then the landlord was in today and he said that a Realtor contacted him. Can you believe that? How crazy is that?”
The K Street restaurant is definitely not closing, Murakami said. Rather, she is talking with her landlord about expanding.
“We’re going to have the entire bottom floor of the building,” she said.
Murakami said she thinks that move will pay off for her business whether a proposed sports arena gets built or not. Murakami said she’s seen a number of restaurants close near her – The Broiler and Pyramid Alehouse – but her restaurant will soon celebrate its 10th anniversary, and she’s planning on many more to come.
Growing Spanish culture
Maria Harrington and Johnny Walker wanted to create a cultural center that celebrated the Spanish language and Spanish culture, but they started small with a Spanish language school in 2011.
They started with 30 students at Casa de Espanol, 2115 J St. That number had grown to 130 by this February, when their story was featured in this column. This summer, they added a class in English as a second language, and between these students and summer camps for kids, their student rolls surged to more than 190.
“We actually have been combining our Spanish-language students with our ESL students, and they converse with each other,” Harrington said. “So, they do 30 minutes of English and 30 minutes of Spanish, and we’ve been organizing that for about five weeks.”
The seeds of a community were emerging, and as Harrington and Walker talked with their students, they felt that it was time to make their dream of a cultural center a reality. At the same time, they began exploring the feasibility of a Montessori preschool with a Spanish-immersion program at its center.
Harrington told me Wednesday that they are on the cusp of realizing their dream with a larger space in midtown Sacramento that can house their cultural center, ESL and Spanish language courses, a preschool and summer camps. She didn’t want to divulge the location until all the papers are signed.
“We’re looking at opening everything in September of 2014,” she said. “We’ve been working on it for about four months or three months, and so we’re pretty secure about getting the space.”
Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916)321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.