Dining Reviews

All in the Family

diningHome-delivered baked goods are all the rage, thanks to I Rise Bakery

If you were to drive by Redwood Pizzeria in Felton during the middle of the night, you might be surprised to see a person loitering in the empty restaurant. The sheriff certainly was, when he and some of his fellow officers recently confronted the mystery man who appeared to be robbing the business.

But instead of a thief, they found one Gardner Lund, covered up to his elbows in dough.

Affectionately referred to as “Papa G,” Lund is the founder of I Rise Bakery, Santa Cruz’s only bakery specializing in organic whole grain artisan breads and baked goods delivered right to your doorstep.

Redwood Pizzeria allows Lund to utilize its kitchen after hours in order to produce fresh-baked goods for his nearly 200 customers, who live anywhere from Boulder Creek to Watsonville.

It’s a sweet setup for Lund, who started the business as a side job in 1998, while working for Gayle’s Bakery.

“At that time, my children’s mother was working during the day and I was working at night at Gayle’s, so I was home with the little ones during the day,” Lund recalls. “So I started making bread with the kids for something to do. And whenever the kids’ friends’ parents came over, I’d give them a loaf.”

It wasn’t long before Lund was getting approached daily by parents on the school yard about the bread they’d heard so much about.

“At that point, I was making less than 10 loaves a week,” he says. “It was more of a fun thing, wherein I got a little bit of cash for gas or taking the family to the movies. For me, it was all about having real involvement in the community. It felt like I was feeding people outside of my family—it was a good feeling.”

I Rise has come a long way since its inception in Westside Santa Cruz, where Lund would bake in his own kitchen and ride around the five-block radius of his house delivering warm loaves of bread to neighbors with his children sitting in the bike trailer. But Lund is proud to say that the operation has remained family oriented, local, handmade with care, and authentic throughout its 16-year history. To this day, Lund bakes everything he sells—which includes bread, granola, scones and cookies—and only he and his son make deliveries to their customers. “It’s really grassroots and has an old-timey feel to it, which people like,” Lund says of I Rise. “It’s like a large extended group of friends.” 

Having worked in product development for several local bakeries, including Gayle’s, Kelly’s Bakery and Beckmann’s Old World Bakery, Lund has a long history of creating recipes that locals love. At I Rise, his focus has always been well-rounded nutrition.

“Our breads are different than everything else out there,” he says. “They’re naturally fermented, with no commercial yeast, and they’re naturally leavened. I use a lot of whole grains and everything is organic.” It doesn’t hurt that they also have a unique texture and flavor that keep customers coming back.

In addition to artisan breads, I Rise offers granola, which is made with organic oats and oils, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, local honey and real maple syrup. The moist scones feature zest and juice from organic lemons or oranges, as well as nuts and dried fruits. And, last but not least, the chocolate chip cookies are a must for those with a sweet tooth.

I Rise members pay $25 per month for weekly bread delivery, with a minimum two-month commitment to start delivery. Special deals are also available for customers who would like to pay for large blocks of time in advance. The bread flavor changes each week for variety, while the specialty granolas and pastries are available all month long.

While someday Lund says he might like to own a food truck, so that he can bring his baked goods directly to businesses as well, for now, he is perfectly content further developing his home delivery service around the county.

“I love the fact that it’s all local—it’s such a Santa Cruz thing,” says Lund. “I do everything by hand; it’s really a labor of love.” 

For more information about I Rise Bakery and how to become a member, visit irisebakery.com, call 818-1496, or email [email protected]

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