Anna’s Bakery
Debbie Weber, left, and Lisa Boelter and their company, Anna’s Bakery, will be honored as this year’s Goleta’s Finest Small Business of the Year. (Goleta Chamber of Commerce photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: One in a series on the honorees at the Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s 70th annual Goleta’s Finest Community Awards Gala, to be held Nov. 23 at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara.]

In March 2000, Debbie Weber and Lisa Boelter became one of the first tenants of Goleta’s brand-new Camino Real Marketplace, opening Anna’s Marketplace Bakery there.

The beloved bakery was tapped to move from the Fairview Center, keeping the original bakery open for the time being. The task was a challenge for the two partners, who found themselves running two locations, building out a new store and bringing loyal customers over to the new place.

But running a bakery anywhere else than Goleta was never an option for Anna’s Bakery, which will be honored by the Goleta Chamber of Commerce on Saturday with the Goleta’s Finest Small Business of the Year Award.

“We are a Goleta-based bakery,” they say. “We are down-to-earth, down home, old school and comforting.”

Their delightful baked items have appeared as donations for jog-a-thons, Girsh Park baseball games, school sports teams and Safety Town. And, of course, Anna’s Bakery is the unofficial star of the annual Goleta Lemon Festival, where their delicious and highly coveted lemon bars and lemon meringue pies are perennial favorites.

Boelter and Weber met at the original Anna’s Bakery in 1986, working for the original Anna, for the then-minimum wage of $4.50 an hour. Boelter was a student at UC Santa Barbara and Weber had come to town from the Pacific Northwest to be a beach bum. After four years, they were hand-selected by the next owners to own and run the business.

And then came the move to Camino Real Marketplace. Thirty years later, the pair have watched their customers’ kids grow up, and add, “A lot of our customers have watched us grow up!”

“I can be the first person a customer talks to that day,” Boelter said. “I like starting off their day with a cheerful remark or joke, making that personal connection.”

The two women will gleefully admit neither of them bakes with any regularity. But they are just as quick to point with pride to their long-time staff of bakers — 18, 24, up to 25 years with the bakery.

Baking is a science, so Boelter and Weber depend on their staff to do the work that goes into a properly prepared doughnut.

“Sometimes, when you hand a kid a doughnut, he laughs,” Weber said. “The joy of that, to make someone that happy with such a small thing … that’s really great.”

The Goleta Chamber of Commerce’s 70th annual Goleta’s Finest Community Awards Gala will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, 8301 Hollister Ave. in Goleta. Click here for more information, or to purchase tickets.

— Kate Schwab represents the Goleta Chamber of Commerce.