By Charly SHELTON
This week continues our series of spotlighting hometown favorite restaurants and dining establishments and how they are adapting to the new normal way of life of COVID-19.
Berolina Bakery and Pastry Shop, located at 3421 Ocean View Blvd. where it pours onto Verdugo Road, has served the Crescenta Valley for nearly 30 years with Youna and Anders Karlsson at the helm baking fresh pastries, pies and more every day. Residents and regular visitors to the bakery have come to depend on Berolina for the fresh bread and more, and many stop by every morning for coffee and a danish. When COVID-19 struck and restaurants closed across the world, Berolina stayed open because, with everything that was changing in the world, Youna wanted to create a sense of consistency for her customers. And that required fast action.
“When things started to go crazy [with the shutdown in March], I started to think about how I would like to go to a place and how I [would] feel safe,” Youna said. “So even before they had face mask mandates, even before [other restaurants implemented use of] paper utensils, I went shopping right away. We put [plexiglass] shields up even before facemasks. Our staff always wore facemasks because I wanted to protect my staff, I wanted them to be safe and I wanted [to provide] a safe shopping experience for the customers. Every day you have to improve.”
Because she was among the businesses that didn’t close during the early stages of the pandemic, she was able to provide a service to the community when merchandise got scarce; not just pastries and bread, but the raw materials as well. When supplies of flour, eggs and yeast ran short in local stores, Berolina sold some of its dry goods to customers who couldn’t get them anywhere else. Even now, long after the shelves at grocery stores have been restocked, Berolina still has customers asking for dry goods out of loyalty to the business.
Berolina has started supporting small businesses during the pandemic as well.
“I felt I needed to do something for the small businesses around here. So that’s when I started to have shelves [in the store] with all locally sourced foods, olive oils, jams, some imported items from Sweden,” Youna said. “There’s a spice girl here, Emily, and I sell her products and they really appreciate that I buy the products and I sell it here.”
Local brands, like Bebacue Sauce Company, Union Jack’s Tea, The Valley Hive Honey, In Emily’s Kitchen, E. Waldo Ward & Sons Marmalades can be found at Berolina Bakery. And for fans of the Highway Highlands Farms jams and jellies, Berolina Bakery has the last of the stock made before a devastating fire hit the business and closed its operations.
Berolina Bakery is still going strong, thanks to the customers who come back day after day for the distinct European bakery feel, the fresh breads and pastries, and the consistency and legacy of the business.
“We’re kind of a gem here in this area,” Youna said. “We’ve been here, next year will be 30 years, and we have such a loyal following and they keep supporting us.”