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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux
Opening a bakery in downtown San Juan Capistrano is something husband and wife Dave and Bree VandenBerg have never done before.
On July 13, though, the married couple went ahead and had a soft opening for FKN Bread—a new food spot in an area that’s becoming a culinary hub. FKN Bread is by Mission San Juan Capistrano and Hennessey’s Tavern, and named for the couple’s their three young boys: Finn, Kane and Nash. They started baking bread for family and friends during the health crisis since they had newfound free time on their hands, and eventually decided to turn it into a business.
The community has shown up to support the bakery since opening, Bree VandenBerg said. The couple sold online bread orders from their home before the downtown spot opened. Dave VandenBerg—who helps prepare the bread—previously worked as a chef before the restaurant he was at closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hiring was really difficult,” Bree VandenBerg said, echoing a concern faced by many businesses right now.
Dave VandenBerg is often at the bakery in person, arriving around 3 a.m. and generally staying until around 7 p.m. Bree VandenBerg handles the marketing and social media side—having to hire babysitters and also being at the business in person as much as possible.
FKN Bread currently has two-full time staff members (not including Dave and Bree VandenBerg) who handle food preparations in the back of the house, and six part-time staff members who handle cashiering and customer service in the front.
The husband and wife team has gradually learned how much bread and pastries to make to meet customer demand. Current hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
“Right now, we’re offering sandwiches,” Bree VandenBerg said.
Sandwich options include turkey, ham, and roast beef. A board inside the shop lists different items customers can order. They also offer sweets, loaves, salads, and Boar’s Head products. Starting next week, toasts will also be available. A larger menu with more sandwiches will be available when FKN Bread adds more staff.
“It’s been requested we do the grab-and-go sandwiches,” Bree VandenBerg said.
The grab-and-go orders are reportedly popular with service workers downtown and people walking in the area. Pre-made sandwiches—made fresh in the mornings—are available in their deli case.
Regarding concerns from some community members over the name, Bree VandenBerg said they had no problem getting a business license from the city and the landlords are fine with the name. FKN Bread has sold out every day, and some people come in just to buy their branded merchandise, she said.
“We’ve had more positive feedback than negative,” Bree VandenBerg said.
Visit fknbread.com for more information.
Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.