Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Demand for gluten-free goodies fuels growth at Pushkin’s Bakery in Sacramento

Sacramento’s demand for gluten-free treats is fueling rapid growth for Pushkin’s Bakery, which opened in February 2013. Owners Danny and Olga Turner plan to open a 4,000-square-foot production facility by July.

“All the baking will be done at the retail space,” Danny Turner said. “This new facility is for new growth at grocery stores, and we’re working on trying to open more locations. … Everything that is involved in baking, before the actual baking process, is going to be done in this new facility, and then we send the doughs and the pre-made mixes to the retail spots where they can be baked on site and sold there. The reason we’re doing that is we’ve completely run out of space.”

The Turners added refrigeration to their commercial van to transport the dough and pre-made products. At their retail bakery, 1820 29th St. in Sacramento, they are expanding their menu with sandwiches made on their gluten-free breads and Temple coffee. Last month, the couple began offering patio seating outside the bakery.

“I built everything,” Danny Turner said. “I used bread molds that we bake our breads in, and that’s what the planter boxes are made out of.”

He and his wife were the sole employees for eight months as they got Pushkin’s established. They now employ seven other people.

Big bite of Costa Vida

Longtime friends Caroline Beal and Jessica Payne are jumping into the restaurant business with both feet, buying franchisee rights to open five Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill locations in the Sacramento region.

Roughly 20 people slept overnight Sunday at the duo’s new Rancho Cordova location, 10831 Olson Drive, hoping to win a promotion that promised free meals for a year to the first 30 people in line. About 10 others joined them between 6:00 and 7:00 Monday morning, and by the time the restaurant opened, 100 people had lined up.

Beal and Payne got the idea to go into the restaurant business from their husbands, Jared Beal and Mark Payne. The two men are Little Caesars franchisees, who own 12 storefronts in the Sacramento and Boston markets. Because their wives were busy Monday, Jared Beal fielded this columnist’s call. He said that as the women were building the new Rancho Cordova eatery, the Costa Vida restaurant in Roseville became available.

“We actually purchased that in February of this year from an existing owner,” he said. “We were like, ‘Well, shoot, that would be a great opportunity to learn the business and train our people there,’ so that’s what we did.”

Beal and Payne’s CV Sacramento franchise also has plans to build Costa Vida restaurants in Elk Grove, Folsom, Citrus Heights and the Arden area of Sacramento. Judging by sales from the Roseville store, Jared Beal said he expects to see annual revenue growth of 15 percent to 20 percent at the Rancho Cordova location. The store, the 65th for Utah-based Costa Vida, should be profitable within a few months, he added.

He brings the party

A funny thing happened when competition moved in on GameTruck franchisee Allan Katzen. He got more customers.

The Loomis resident bought his GameTruck back in 2010. He’d heard about it on talk radio’s “ Kim Komando Show,” in which America’s self-proclaimed digital goddess had boasted that she had just thrown the best birthday party ever for her son. After doing some research, Katzen found himself intrigued by the concept.

“We pull up in front of their house, and for two hours, we entertain their kids,” he said. “There are over 70 videogames in the truck, and we customize the games to meet the age requirements at the party. … Inside the truck, I have four large-screen TVs, each with an Xbox 360, a Wii console and a couple of PlayStation 3s.”

There was only one problem back in 2010: Unlike the technology-forward Komando, few people in the Sacramento region understood what GameTruck was. Then competition moved into the region, and Katzen found that he was spending a lot less time explaining what he did. The competitors helped to educate people, he said. This year, Katzen said, his GameTruck is having its best year ever with bookings at birthday parties, church events, school events and summer camps.

Things are going so well that Katzen felt the time was right to expand. He introduced Photo Graffiti Wall at a June 7 grand opening party for the Whitney Peak Hotel in Reno, and people lined up to try it.

“This is a 10-foot-by-7-foot-high reverse projector screen. It’s like going to the movies,” Katzen said. “You take a picture of the guest … it immediately goes to the screen. They can draw on it with a can that looks like a spray can but is actually an infrared light. They can write messages on it or use our stencils. When they’re done, it prints out a 4-by-6 color photo, and there’s a banner at the bottom for advertising.”

Once again on the leading edge, Katzen anticipates it will take a while to educate the region. Learn more at