Growing up in Hollister, I was always excited to see when a new business would open, only for it to close a few months later. It is a sentiment upon which Lorie Mendoza-Rios, owner and pastry chef of Lighthouse 55 Bakery, and I agree.
“I would walk up and down downtown and watched businesses open and close,” Mendoza-Rios said.
Opened in December 2014, Lighthouse Bakery, located at 396 Fourth St., just east and across the street from the San Benito Country Courthouse, has made its mark on the community.
With close to 1,500 likes on its Facebook page and devoted regulars of its sweet treats and lunch deals, Lighthouse 55 is quickly turning into a hometown favorite.
Mendoza-Rios is proud to run a family-owned business she said. She measures all the ingredients and makes sure everything is baked to perfection while her children Jared Rios, Eric Swan, Michelle Swan and Jaclyn Swan and husband Samuel Rios help her decorate and run the front of the store.
“I wanted to put my kids to work,” joked Mendoza-Rios, who has been baking for 35 years, honing her skills as a baker and cake decorator at places like Dick’s Bakery in San Jose, Greenlee’s Bakery and Cosentino’s Market.
Mendoza-Rios also attended a French culinary institute in Campbell and studied for two year under Toba Garrett, one of the country’s top artists and educators in cake decorating and design, in Las Vegas.
Open Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Lighthouse 55 offers a variety of pastries, pies, specialty cakes and deli sandwiches. Its most popular items are the almond cake, maple bacon bars, and the chicken sandwich on a croissant — which is sold at lunch time — Mendoza-Rios said.
Mendoza-Rios said she often gets asked where the name Lighthouse 55 originated from.
“The name came about because I have always loved lighthouses. I wanted this bakery to be a lighthouse to the community,” she said.
As for the number 55 she added, “ my dad’s favorite number was 5 and my husband was born in 1955.”
Her daughter, Michelle Swan, is staying true to her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit by featuring her own collection of dessert trays in the bakery. Shy Bunny Designs is a collection of plates and trays that Swan has accumulated over the past year. All are antique or vintage and can be bought or rented at the store. The trays can be used for a tea party of two people to a party of 200.
If you haven’t visited Lighthouse 55 Bakery, jump on the bandwagon and see why they have quickly become a favorite. There is something for everyone.
My personal favorites are the carrot cake cupcake, burnt almond cupcake and the maple bacon bars. I promise you won’t be disappointed.