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.
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
“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
“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
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).