What started as a way to cope with economic recession has grown into a mainstay of Carson City cuisine over the last decade, and now the owners of L.A. Bakery on North Curry Street are looking to take their business to the next level by franchising.
“Our goal, hopefully, is we want to focus mostly on Nevada, where we are from right now,” said Ali Arbabha, who owns the bakery with wife Leila Tavakoli.
Arbabha said the bakery would like to franchise in Reno, Gardnerville and the Lake Tahoe area, but will consider inquiries from Las Vegas, California or Arizona.
“We just want to do these few states,” Arbabha said, adding the goal is no more than 10 franchisees in a year.
Those interested must meet certain financial requirements and initial investment: https://labakeryfranchising.com/. L.A. Bakery will retain a 6 percent royalty on gross sales, Arbabha said, but will offer continual training and support.
“It’s a good plan if we get to that point, but it’s not all going to be profit,” he said. “Because you have employees also, and people that you have to send for training. There’s marketing… It’s just like any other business. It’s just like this place that we have. You’re going to have a whole bunch of people that you have to pay, of course.”
L.A. Bakery currently employs 25 people. The owners expect to add up to 10 employees for the franchising arm with a team for training, marketing and management.
“That will be a different entity,” Arbabha said.
Arbabha comes from an engineering background, and Tavakoli from a background in chemistry and the culinary arts. The couple has Turkish and Persian roots. When they were starting out in the States circa 2009, they found themselves in Nevada during the Great Recession and couldn’t find work.
“The economy crashed. I got laid off, and right after that I was unemployed for a while, and we started thinking about the food business,” said Arbabha.
“I went to culinary school overseas,” said Tavakoli. “Just for fun, not for business, because I love pastries and bread and food.”
During the recession, lacking other options, the couple decided to try the food industry. They started a small company, Shirini Shop, that sold pastries at local farmers markets and restaurants. In 2012, they established L.A. Bakery, which also wholesales product to places like Whole Foods and the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
The couple lives in Carson, five minutes from their brick-and-mortar storefront on Curry Street.
“I love people in Carson City. They are so friendly,” said Tavakoli. “Especially in the morning, I see all of them and say ‘Hey.’”
The name of the bakery comes from the initials of the owners’ names, though some customers have wondered if there is a location in Los Angeles. Over the years, the bakery has built a sizeable staff. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the bakery didn’t have to lay off anyone, the owners said.
“If you do not have good customer service and good staff — like skilled, good and happy staff — you won’t be successful,” Arbabha said.
He added, “We take them as a family. We treat our staff as a family, and that’s why this place, every customer here — privately, on email or when they see me in the front or see my general manager — they say that your staff are spectacular, they’re amazing.”
Besides customer service, L.A. Bakery is selling prospective franchisees the quality of its products.
“If you don’t have a good product, you’re not going to have customers,” Arbabha said. “The food that we make, everything is fresh here.”
The couple said the bakery uses some family recipes from the Middle East but also has tweaked recipes to match customers’ tastes in Nevada. They often will test product on staff members to see what’s working.
“The baklava is definitely our recipe,” Tavakoli said. “I worked on it for seven months to get the best, best baklava.”
L.A. Bakery Café & Eatery is located at 1280 N. Curry St. For information, call 775-885-CAKE (2253).