The move is effective in May, when Setrakian plans to open a shop in downtown Bolinas, and Karen Goldberg, owner of Tamalpie Pizzeria and the soon-to-open Playa in the former Champagne space, plans to open Bonbon, a bakery and ice cream, candy, treats and panini sandwich shop.
“Having Beth's Community Kitchen in downtown Mill Valley for the past three years has been a dream come true,” Setrakian says. “And while I’m moving my retail shop closer to our home in Bolinas, I hope to continue to be able to serve my wonderful Mill Valley regulars with their favorite baked goods."
Goldberg says she connected with Setrakian through mutual friends and heard about her interest in working closer to her home in Bolinas.
“She’s got a heart of gold,” Goldberg says.
Of Bonbon, Goldberg says she plans to open the shop in the coming week.
“Ever since Baskin Robbins closed, I’ve felt like Mill Valley needed an ice cream sundae shop,” she says, describing Bonbon as a mix of popular San Francisco shops like Miette, Tartine Bakery, Dillon’s Candy Bar and Twirl and Dip.
Setrakian’s career in the food business dates back to the early 1980s, when her friend and fellow Stanford grad Judy Rodgers, the late owner owner and chef at Zuni Café in San Francisco, helped her land a job as the pastry chef at the Fourth Street Grill in Berkeley. Setrakian wowed owner Mark Miller, a Chez Panisse alum like Rodgers, with her pecan tart, which has become her signature treat.
After a pastry production stint at Il Fornaio, Setrakian married Kentfield painter Rob Setrakian, got pregnant with their first child Nicholas and moved to West Marin. She started making wedding cakes and selling pies to places like the Olema Inn.
“That grew into a pretty nice business,” said Setrakian, a native of Prairie View, Texas. “But I wouldn’t do wedding cakes again because it’s too stressful. It was really fun but you cannot be a second late – you’re dealing with bride-zillas.”
The young family then moved to Italy for a year and a half, taking in the art and food in a country that worships both. Upon their return, Setrakian, with a newborn and a toddler at home, eschewed job offers and decided to go back to doing her own thing, starting with those pecan tarts.
She sold about 500 of them to companies to give as corporate gifts inside film cannisters, using the kitchens of friends and family all over West Marin to bake them.
“It was scary – I was running all over the place,” she said.
Two months later, the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” ensued, which saw Setrakian landing a gig to make heart-shaped Italian desserts for a restaurant in San Francisco. The order kept growing, which sent Rob Setrakian driving over the Golden Gate Bridge multiple times to deliver additional orders.
“He’s always been such a good sport, but at that point, he said, ‘Enough,’” she said. “He said, ‘Let’s find you a place to do this and not in our kitchen.’”
They found Kitchens Inc., a commercial kitchen on Kerner Blvd. in San Rafael that served as an incubator of sorts for a number of food businesses. Setrakian’s business then began to blossom with cookies, landing deals with a number of grocery stores (her cookies can currently be found in Mill Valley Market, Bi-Rite and Berkeley Bowl, among others). But throughout Setrakian’s years of supplying retailers and restaurants with her tasty treats, she harkened back to her freshman year in college, when she spent the summer taking classes at Columbia University and selling cookies at the Henri Bendel store.
“I found an old journal from then and I had written about how all I wanted was to have my own little bakery,” she said.
She started looking in Mill Valley about five years ago and learned that Lester Hubbard, the owner of Valley Security & Tool at 34 Miller, was looking to close and sell the building. She wasn’t able to ink a deal with him then, but later signed a lease with eventual buyer the Keil Estate Company, opening her Beth’s Community Kitchen in late 2011.
Stay tuned for more info on Bonbon and Beth’s new shop in Bolinas.