To say that Mary Frese is passionate may be the understatement of the century. Owning and managing Clayton’s Coffee Shop and Clayton’s Mexican Take-out is a huge undertaking on its own for her and her team. Then you take a short walk down Orange Avenue and you arrive at Clayton’s Bakery and Bistro.
Locals and tourists alike are very familiar with the coffee shop and the take-out window. There aren’t many days when you don’t see a line for both restaurants. But Frese still had a dream. She and her partner Chelsea Schoeni talked many times about opening a bakery in Coronado that would bring a 1900’s European style flair to the island.
“Chelsea was a 14 year old employee when we first met,” said Frese. “Our friendship grew, we had the same visions, supported one another, and have executed our business design together. Ours is a family business.”
Frese and Schoeni opened Clayton’s Bakery and Bistro in 2019 and gave Coronado a sophisticated and delectable choice of baked goods made from scratch and delicious coffee. The executive pastry chef is Elena Palma. An Imperial Beach native with a baking and culinary associate degree, Palma spent a lifetime in various top tier locations honing her craft and creating some of the most delicious baked goods this side of any French patisserie.
“She is the ‘bakery’ in Clayton’s Bakery and Bistro,” said Frese.
The dream of a bakery and bistro for Frese always had an expansive space in mind and thoughts of a retail venue for their wares. “We hoped to take over additional space from the inception of the existing bakery to help us develop the full scope of our business plan”, said Frese. “The initial space wasn’t enough, but with Covid we were forced to take it one step and one week at a time. Now we have the additional space but we have to be patient and open it when the time is right. The goal is to take it slow and be selective due to the pandemic. It’s a process right now and we want our customers and our staff to be safe”.
Patience will pay off for everyone waiting for the new space at the bakery to open. The plans are extensive and exciting. The additional side of Clayton’s Bakery and Bistro will house many different options for customers. “We plan to open a full service retail bakery offering breads, cakes, baked goods and incredible coffees,” said Frese. “We will combine the storefront of both spaces and maintain the integrity on both sides for excellent customer service. There will be a high level of European coffees and espresso and new gourmet items.”
And for those of us who don’t have time to bake and plan as we head to our next social gathering, the bakery will offer a line of hostess gifts. This will include cheeses, wines, gifts, and hostess trays prepared for guests to pick up and take to a party or home. The perfect addition to an already enticing location.
“We also plan to start a wholesale business that Chelsea will direct,” said Frese. “This will add a retail sales aspect to our business and enable us to provide our bakery items and breads to hotels, parties, and anyone in need of large orders for an event”.
All businesses worldwide have had to adjust to the times with a pandemic that continues to linger. Clayton’s is no different.
“We have had to be creative, mitigate our losses, accept federal support, operate carefully, and look forward to 2021,” said Frese. “I have an incredible team working with me. We are in a constant state of support for one another and everyone’s perspective is important right now. We feel blessed to be open and seeing our customers again after being closed for two months.”
Covid protocols are evident when you enter the bakery. Masks are mandatory, hand sanitizer is available at the door, and only one person at a time is allowed in the restaurant to order. They even had Jan-Pro Enviroshield come in and sanitize the bakery and all their business locations.
Frese and her team continue to expand the business not only with space, but with extra conveniences added for their patrons as well. There is a QR code menu that enables you look at the menu and order on your phone while you are waiting in line. They have also launched a contactless pick-up ordering system through their website. Frese has partnered with Dine.Direct to deliver the bakery’s delicious treats right to your car or bicycle. “I chose to work with Dine.Direct because they are perfectionists like I am.”
Ken Irvine owns Dine.Direct and is a local resident and former owner of Chez Loma. “[Dine.Direct] runs an efficient system with dedicated employees, creative innovations, and excellent customer service,” said Frese. Customers simply place their orders on the bistro website through Dine.Direct, look at the available menu items, order, pay and arrive for touchless pick-up.
There are exciting things on the horizon for Clayton’s Bakery and Bistro. For the time being however, we are treated to the existing location and it’s many exquisite bakery items, fine coffees, salads, sandwiches, and ever-expanding menu. You can sit on the front porch in their beautiful café style seating with a view of Orange Avenue, or enjoy the peace and quiet of the back porch with a little more space. Never be discouraged when you arrive at the bistro and see a long line out front. The staff is efficient, helpful and pleasant and the line moves quickly. Just remember what is waiting for you once you enter the world of incredible smells and enticing menu items. There is also a Clayton’s back parking lot available located off Eighth Street in the alley behind Cal Private Bank. You can easily park there and the staff will deliver your order right to your car.
“We are excited to bring our dream to life here in Coronado,” said Frese. “Small business thrives through experience and precision and we try and create positive energy every day, from day one. These times call for empathy, compassion, and understanding and we work constantly in response to what is happening in Coronado for our customers.”
So while you are waiting in line, waiting in your car for your order, or hopefully soon sitting back at their vintage style tables in the bistro, remember the incredible creations you are about to have with a side of delicious coffee made to order. Once you have eaten at Clayton’s Bakery and Bistro you will continue to return and never regret the time spent there. We are looking forward to what Frese and her team will bring to us with their new addition next door. I suspect it will be another successful venture.
Clayton’s Bakery is currently taking pre-orders for pies and cakes, holiday cookies, truffles, and Beef Wellington for your holiday supper through New Years. You can also indulge in traditional holiday comfort with honey sliced ham or fresh baked turkey dinner at Clayton’s Coffee Shop. And remember to order your delicious holiday pies at the bakery. You can choose from bourbon pecan pie, traditional apple pie, chocolate peppermint cake, chocolate truffles, holiday cookie gift baskets and much more. Why do it yourself when you have the creative and talented chefs at Clayton’s Bistro to make your holiday special?
Clayton’s Bakery and Bistro is located at 849 Orange Avenue across from the Coronado Village Theater. You can place your order through their website at claytonsbakeryandbistro.com or call 619-319-5001. They are open Monday through Sunday 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Currently there is only online ordering and pick-up available, but check their website for updates as things change.