Santos family starts bakeryin re-opened Traveler’s Den

KEKAHA — Just like the late Jerry Santos would have wanted, four generations

of his family have re-opened Traveler’s Den as Rollin-n-Dough, a bakery open

six days a week on Kekaha Road.

And, just like Carol Santos wanted, she has

returned with daughter Lynn Jackson and her family from San Diego. Santos spent

nearly four years in California, and plainly didn’t like it. “I’m home now,”

she says with a certainty that probably means she’s home for good.

But

getting Lynn and Robert Jackson, their daughter and granddaughter back to

Lynn’s roots took over 20 years. They came for Thanksgiving last year, and

Robert Jackson said they were coming back to live and work. His wife was

skeptical.

“I never thought I would come back to live, and I thought he was

joking.” Almost in the next breath, one gets the feeling she is, also, home for

good.

“I was always hoping we could come back as a family and re-open the

restaurant.” Lynn Jackson specializes in breads, pastries, Danish, cinnamon

rolls, croissants, and a creation called “bialy,” a baked delicacy of risen

bagel dough and toppings like cheese, onions and meats that tastes a bit like

pizza.

Jackson, who likes vegetarian foods as well as her spicy things, is

working on a vegetarian bialy, her husband said.

The bakery boasts “the

best cheesecake on this side of the Pacific,” he adds, quoting, he says,

everyone who has ever tried it. The mini-cheesecakes go for just $3.

Santos

still bakes up a storm, with cakes and decorating remaining her specialties.

She also does roasts, and pig.

The bakery side produces a jalapeno cheese

bread (Jackson loves her spicy foods), and olive, cinnamon-raisin,

rosemary-garlic and French varieties. Cheesecakes big and small, with special

homemade sauces (including passion fruit, mango and others), have also been a

hit with the regulars who have discovered or re-discovered Santos hospitality

and culinary skill.

Since opening earlier this summer, the family has

employed a trial-and-error method in terms of how much of each of the goodies

to bake on a daily basis, Jackson said. Her orange-almond bear claws are an

example.

When she first baked them, they didn’t move from the display case

up front. Not that easily discouraged, Jackson began cutting them into small

pieces and offering them as free samples.

Now, they’re a popular item. And,

in what is probably a supreme compliment, the bakery’s loyal customers have

repeatedly told the family that their products are underpriced.

She was

weighed the cost of food (much higher than in San Diego, obviously) versus the

price on the products. Luckily, some of her products are recyclable, as breads

and other creations become filling for other goodies, bread pudding, cookies,

biscotti, and an original she calls “Serendipity Croutons.”

These are

toasted bread pieces made from whatever happens to be lying around and leftover

when she begins making them. One batch might be heavy on the garlic, because

that’s what she has on the prep table.

While Santos was not eager to get

into the Jacksons’ new business story, Lynn Jackson said the business couldn’t

have happened without her mom’s help with start-up and operational financing.

And, bringing her creative cooking back to Kekaha.

The family has rented

its house in San Diego to friends who are taking care of the two dogs, two

birds and several fish who still live there, and have used their own savings to

finance the start-up as well, Jackson said.

The Santos family owns the

bakery building that also houses a Thrifty Mini Mart and Dennis Okihara’s

Ha’upu Growers (Black Mountain Coffee) roasting, processing, packaging and

sales operation.

Traveler’s Den originally opened for business when Lynn

Jackson was 14 years old.

She was the waitress, dishwasher and baker, and

learned her creative cooking from simply watching her mother work. When Jackson

left the island and vowed she had waited on her last table at Traveler’s Den,

she enrolled in a cake-decorating class at a Honolulu YMCA.

Her work was

better than the instructor’s.

Robert and Lynn Jackson were married in 1977,

when he was 24 and she 23. They have a daughter and granddaughter, and all but

the seven-month-old assist in the operation, which is open 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday through Friday, and Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon. The family closes the

bakery Saturdays, their worship day.

Santos went to San Diego after the

death of her husband, to stay with her daughter and her family. While there,

mother and daughter attended a baking class at nearby Mesa College.

The

instructor was instantly impressed with Santos’ skills, along with the taste

and texture of her creations. Another instructor owned the Baskin Robbins

franchise in San Diego, and got Santos to go to work for him.

“And she blew

San Diego away,” her daughter proclaimed.

While Lynn Jackson was unsure

whether or not they’d return to Kekaha to live and work, Robert Jackson said

they’d been talking about coming back here ever since they got married.

He

was a full-time U.S. Postal Service employee in San Diego, and works part-time

at the Hanapepe Post Office now.

Before Traveler’s Den re-opened and

Rollin-n-Dough opened, people in the neighborhood had been asking for a bakery,

he said. The location on a main road to and from Waimea Canyon brings in people

from all over the island and all over the world for a taste of something

different, he said.

Lynn Jackson’s brothers Kerry (a firefighter at the

Pacific Missile Range Facility) and Frank (a U.S. Postal Service supervisor in

Honolulu) were bakers growing up here.

Business Editor Paul C. Curtis

can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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