Gayle’s turns 45 — and gives fans a chance to reimagine their faves

Gayle's Bakery in Capitola
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria opened Feb. 14, 1978, with one employee working with owners Gayle and Joe Ortiz. What’s now a Capitola landmark employs more than 130 and goes through nearly 61,000 eggs a month.

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Happy birthday to Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria! The Capitola bakery and restaurant celebrates 45 years in business on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. Owners Gayle and Joe Ortiz opened the doors in 1978 with just one employee. Now, along with business partner Louisa Beers, Gayle’s employs more than 130 staff members.

A brochure on Gayle’s website shares fun facts about the restaurant from its past and present, including that 15 staff members met and married while working at Gayle’s, and 21 employees have worked there for more than 20 years, including purchasing manager Michael Hanson, whom I profiled in Unsung Santa Cruz in December. It also uses a shocking amount of ingredients each month, including 3.5 tons of butter, 1,586 pounds of chocolate and 60,600 eggs.

Gayle’s traditionally holds a contest during its anniversary celebration. This year, the theme is Gayle’s Goodies Reimagined. “Just as we’re aware that everyone has a favorite goodie from Gayle’s, we know you all have a tasty variation on the original,” states a news release. Entrants are invited to share their recipe for a chance to win Gayle’s gift cards and be featured in a free booklet of winning recipes, which will be available at the bakery. Rules and an entry form are available at The deadline to enter is midnight on Feb. 14.

Gayle’s, which lies just a few blocks away from Capitola Village, will also donate $10,000 to the Capitola Wharf Restoration Fund. The wharf was heavily damaged during the storms in early January.

If all this talk of birthdays puts you in the mood for a treat, find it at Gayle’s, open daily 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 504 Bay Ave. in Capitola. View the menu and order online at