While walking through the well-kept streets of sunny downtown Santa Barbara one is sure to stumble across Recipes Bakery. The quaint structure with bright pink shutters stands out among the swaths of white stucco buildings and wafts of inviting scents emanate out of the building, drawing people towards the bakery and making a visit inside inevitable.
The building maintains much of its original architecture in spite of being transformed from a residential space to a commercial structure. This is due to a large push for preservation on the part of the owner, Meichelle Arntz. Arntz spent over a year ensuring that the building not only maintained its historical structure but was also water-wise in terms of landscaping and had all water-permeable surfaces. This long-struggle was well-worth the amount of care and thought that went into the renovation.
Even after 6 years in operation, the bakery looks much like the home it was intended to be nearly 100 years ago and the patio is an inviting, flourishing space.
And, while this effort is in large part due to a respect for preserving the history of Santa Barbara’s downtown area, the way that Recipes Bakery resembles a home aligns nicely with Meichelle’s vision for the bakery.
While speaking with her in the idyllic back patio of the establishment, Meichelle spoke about her intentions for Recipes at the outset. “I wanted it to feel like home when people came in to eat. The food is freshly prepared from scratch” she said, I wanted people to feel welcome and I had this idea when we first opened that we would genuinely get to know the people who came into the bakery and coffee house.
This vision appears to have come through in the operations of the business. Meichelle spoke lovingly of regulars who they anticipate, sometimes having their order at the table before they even have the chance to put it in and people who have “become like friends and family” to herself and her close-knit team.
This loving and warm atmosphere seems to underlie the greater mission of Recipes Bakery. Beyond just serving incredible pastries, breakfasts, and traditional Australian coffee, Recipes serves as a beacon of community and of care in the city.
The open and welcoming space, Meichelle, says is “a gathering place for everyone to sit with friends and family” where they can be “treated like honored guests in your home.” A robust community, she suggests, is comprised of many of these spaces where people are welcome and can have time away from work or stressors and instead take the time to watch little lizards scamper over the rocks along the walkway or hummingbirds flit between the thriving lavender bushes. She says she loves to watch people relax and open up while they enjoy a lovingly-prepared flat white or long black.
The team at Recipes is also involved in ways to give back to the community directly through the Business Giving Roundtable. This organization works locally to encourage corporate social responsibility by promoting employee volunteerism, monetary contributions, and other creative ways of giving back.
The staff at Recipes stays involved in the community by working together to provide job and skills training to local “at risk” high school students. Meichelle says it is very important that the team work collaboratively to give back in this way because they want to make sure anyone they take on is taken into the team with loving arms. For that reason, “we always have a giving section at our staff meeting where we look at letters of request that have come in and we talk about candidates that want to come in and train… [ensuring] there’s a buy-in from everyone that’s at the bakery about wanting to give back.” With the whole team involved, the effort is more successful and the team stays unified around their common goal of serving the community more than just coffee.
When the students leave they take a letter of recommendation and job training with them, increasing their odds of landing a job in college or beyond.
With this varied lot of giving initiatives, a passion for baking passed down through generations, and the efforts necessary to keep her team happy and thriving, Meichelle finds it necessary to delegate some tasks in order to better allocate her time.
This is where Accountix steps in to help out Recipes. Meichelle says that while “I’m good with numbers and I can run a budget… I have to say it’s not my favorite part [of being a business owner]… so being able to delegate some of those responsibilities over to someone who is an expert at it and loves it” frees up time to “grow my business and focus on the things that I need to be doing. And,” she says with a laugh, “I also have some time now to actually go to the gym and do more personal things for me.”
As she surveys the business around her, busy today for a weekday mid-morning, Meichelle seems content with the product of her years of hard work. She says, “it was hours every week that I’m not spending now [on accounting, payroll management, and tax compliance]… you know I’ve been working with Accountix now for, gosh, probably three and a half years and it’s been great.” Now, with this added time, Meichelle can focus on her passions for baking and impacting the community positively.
And, it is beautiful to see these passions flourish and grow in the form of Recipes. The warm and inviting space has been a local favorite for 6 years now and it is easy to see why. With such heart, the help of Accountix, and a cinnamon roll recipe passed down through the generations, Recipes is just what Santa Barbara needs.
Stop by next time you’re in the area. It’ll feel just like going home.