Saturday, May 15, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Bob's Well Bread Bakery and Cafe opened a second location, which means that yeasted goodness is now baked daily in the Santa Ynez Valley


Talk about a fruitful lifestyle move.

Bob Oswaks had been in the television industry in Los Angeles for 30 years when he decided it was time for a career change.

“It wasn’t anything all of a sudden. I had been working for Norman Lear for years. He talked to me after I had been working at Sony for years, and he told me, ‘When you’ve been working at something for long enough, and you decide it’s time … ,’” Bob said.

More fresh bread
Bob’s Well Bread Bakery and Cafe’s second location is at 2449 Baseline Drive in Ballard; it’s open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Find out more info by visiting, find them on Facebook at, or call (310) 200-9194. Hours in Los Alamos, 550 Bell St., are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Both sites are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Bob’s Well Bread Bakery and Cafe of Los Alamos opened a second location in Ballard on Oct. 1.

After three decades in the same industry, it was time.

“That was when I got a passion for studying bread,” Bob said.

He decided he wanted to start a bakery but had no desire to start one in Los Angeles, so he and his wife, Jane Oswaks, moved to Los Alamos.

“We bought a house there in 2012,” Bob said. “We had had a summer house there for 20 years, as an escape from Los Angeles.

“We wanted to start a bakery in a rural location,” he continued. “Bread and wine go together, so we wanted to start a bakery in wine country.”

His passion drove him to launch Bob’s Well Bread Bakery and Cafe in Los Alamos. Bob and Jane opened the bakery, featuring fresh-baked artisan bread and pastries and wines, in 2014.

Baked every morning, Bob’s Well Bread has a variety of artisan breads and pastries. Gluten-free options are available.

Following a raft of favorable reviews on the Los Alamos bakery—among other laurels, the business was featured as one of “15 Amazing Small Town Bakeries” in Travel and Leisure Magazine—the Oswakses started a second spot in Ballard, 14 miles south of its flagship store.

The Ballard shop opened on Oct. 1, and the bakery’s reputation was such that people were lined up at 7 a.m., an hour before opening time, Bob said. He and Jane had high hopes for the day, but shortly thereafter, they were wondering if all of those potential customers would leave hungry.

“Everything for the Ballard store is driven from the Los Alamos store, and our driver was stuck on the 101 for 2 1/2 hours because of a traffic accident,” Bob said. “He was a half-mile from the exit, but there was nothing he could do.”

Bob Oswaks opened Bob’s Well Bread Bakery in Los Alamos in 2014 with his wife, Jane Oswaks. Due to their success, the couple recently opened a second bakery in Ballard.

Ultimately, it all worked out. 

“Everything went very well,” Bob said of the grand opening.

The cafe kitchen—dishing up sandwiches, quiche, seasonal fruit, and more—closes at 3 p.m. And Bob’s is also serving a gluten-free option: centennial toast, which comes with house-made butter. Egg lovers can order their favorite orbs in a Benedict; in a frame (like a toad-in-a-hole) with tomatoes and and aged goat cheese or bacon béchamel and bacon lardons; or even with prosciutto, pecorino, and arugula. You can also get those eggs served in a jar (poached), with gruyere, bacon lardons, purple potato puree, chives, and creme fraîche. All options come with that famous freshly baked bread. 

At the moment, outdoor dining is spacious enough for 40. Once the state of California gives the go-ahead and reduces COVID-19 restrictions, indoor dining for 25 will be available.

At the bakery’s original Los Alamos location, Bob said the signature, a loaf of pain au levain, is the bakery’s best seller. 

“All of our croissants and pastries sell extremely well. One of the surprises has been how popular our English muffins have been,” he said

Bob would like to sell more of those, but he just can’t.

“People want to buy them by the bagful, and we just can’t sell them that way,” he said, given that the bakery’s staff makes the items by hand.

Thus, he said, the bakery has to keep on eye on what sells, when it comes to the bakery’s surprise successes.

Bob’s Well Bread serves up more than fresh-baked goods—the cafe also dishes out breakfast, lunch, and local wine.

With some 10 different types of pastries, a wide assortment of sandwiches designed to satisfy the tastes of carnivores and vegetarians alike, and a broad assortment of wines, the bakery is equipped to satisfy a variety of connoisseurs. Featuring wines crafted by winemaker Doug Margerum, including sauvignon blanc, grenache rose, and grenache, wine is sold by the bottle and by the glass. 

“The sauvignon blanc, the white wine, and the rose have sold particularly well, because they’re daytime wines,” Bob said.

Starting a bakery, Bob said, was his idea but, he noted that Jane is instrumental in everything when it comes to both locations.

There had been some planning before the couple established their flagship location. That, Bob said, wasn’t exactly the case when it came to the Ballard location. 

“We were talked into it by the owners of the building,” Bob said. “They said, ‘If we buy the building, we’d like you to start a bakery.’”

Starting another bakery wasn’t exactly a high priority for Bob.

“I had a lot on my hands at the Los Alamos store,” he said with a chuckle.

But that’s just what the Oswakses did, to the delight of the building’s main owners, Rob and Jeniene Raisch. Both locations, Bob said, have a rich mix of regulars and tourists. 

“There’s a magic to making artisan products, and when people see bread and pastries being made by hand, they see that,” Bob said.

Contributor Kenny Cress is hungry for more bread. Reach him through the editor at

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