An organic sourdough bakery returns to its roots in Tustin
It all started with Winona.
“Everyone names their starter,” said Rye Goods pastry chef and owner Sara Lezama. “Ours is Winona Ryeder.”
The rye sourdough culture Lezama was gifted 22 years ago was already 15 years old when she received it. Winona Ryeder is the base of nearly all the goods that come from Rye Goods.
“We have been feeding this thing, and it’s 100% rye, and so that is the base of almost everything,” Lezama said.
Besides the good starter, Rye Goods mills all its flours and sources heritage grains and wild yeast. The organic sourdough bakery “lives in the seasons” and uses fresh, seasonal, local fruits and veggies in its baked goods that are sold along with coffee and natural wine.
Rye Goods began in 2016, when Lezama was rebuilding her garage in Tustin and decided to add a few extra things to the structure.
“I got the idea that if we are building this out, maybe we can add some things here and there,” she said. “And we ended up building this fully functioning professional kitchen.”
Lezama started baking bread and pastries for catering gigs and wholesaling to coffee shops until it became a full-time job.
“We outgrew our garage. I think we got to 10 wholesale accounts, so we landed at the Hood Kitchen,” she said.
The team had just gotten settled at Costa Mesa’s Hood Kitchen Space, a commercial kitchen rental and event space, when the pandemic struck.
“We went from being 100% wholesale to zero wholesale accounts in a weekend,” Lezama said. “Everything shut down and all of our accounts called and said, ‘We don’t need anything.’”
Rye Goods was just coming off a holiday season where it had successfully sold pies on a rudimentary website for the first time, so Lezama decided to put the site to use by selling bread online.
“We launched it, and it went crazy, we had lines around the block,” said Lezama. “Especially for holidays, no one was up and running, and we were just getting so much love.”
For the first time, Lezama said the team was also getting the chance to interact directly with customers who were fans of Rye Goods’ bread and pastries.
“We had talked to people on Instagram that were picking up our stuff at coffee shops, but we got to meet everybody. For like two years, we built really great relationships with our direct customers for the first time.”
A year into the pandemic Rye Goods opened a storefront at Lido Marina Village in Newport Beach, and those same enthusiastic customers came out to support it.
The Tustin location on Red Hill Avenue opened this month, but it was initially conceived as Rye Goods’ own commercial production kitchen when Lezama and her team began the buildout in 2019.
“Then we added this little storefront area onto it, as customers said they didn’t want to go all the way down to the peninsula and wanted something more central,” said Lezama. “And Tustin is where we started, so we felt like we had to do it here.”
A variety of loaves are available, from country to sesame to jalapeño cheddar along with brioche, bagels and baguettes. Customers will also find seasonal treats like apple turnovers, sticky buns and strawberry vanilla cream danish. A deli menu offers sandwiches, pastas, soups and cheese plates too.
Rye Goods, Tustin did end up the hub of production as intended.
“We were working with about 600 square feet of kitchen space at Lido, and we soon burst out of that. So we have all really been waiting for this,” Lezama said.
The Tustin location contains a bread room, bake room, a deli, storage space and a place for packaging.
“It is three times the size, and everyone is very happy,” Lezama said.
And Rye Goods continues to rise, with a Laguna Beach location planned for the former Grove on Forest coffeehouse space at the Lumberyard Mall on Forest Avenue.
“It will be a storefront, but it will also be a full wine bar,” said Lezama. “It will be the shop that stays open later. We will do bread, but then we will do little appetizer too.”
Besides gearing up for the next location, Lezama said the team is getting ready for the next big project: preorders for Christmas.
“We have always been like, it’s the pandemic — get out what you can,” Lezama said. “This year we have the equipment and the people and the creativity to make this holiday menu our most fun Christmas menu yet.”
Lezama said customers can look forward to festive pies, tarts and cakes.
“We are excited for December.”
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