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Small Space Marks the End of a Long Search for 'Semi Sweet'

By Pamela Rouse
Published: Monday, March 07, 2011, at 06:13PM
Semi Sweet Pamela Rouse

Sharlena Fong stands in front of equipment from an old Chinese restaurant that was uncovered when construction began for Semi Sweet

A small space on 6th Street marks the end of a long search for Historic Core residents Sharlena Fong and Dennis Hunter, who spent a year scouting potential sites before settling on the location between Main and Los Angeles as the home of their new bakery, Semi Sweet.

The two became business partners nearly a year ago and have been offering catered treats while searching for a retail home.

They plan to offer both savory and sweet bakery items. While the kitchen won't have the space necessary for baking hard breads like baguettes, Fong plans to offer savory meat pockets and buns, croissants, brioches, scones, danishes and a considerable list of cakes and sweet treats.

While the block already includes a bakery, Fong thinks their offering will complement Babycakes NYC across the street. "If anything, I think you can bring your gluten-free friend Downtown and you can get a croissant while they can go get a gluten-free 'toastie,'" she says. "I think we're catering to different crowds."

As pastry chef for the Nickel Diner, Fong played a key role in shaping the eatery's famed donuts and desserts. While those same items won't appear on her new menu, variations might include maple-bacon sticky buns, mini pop-tarts, or a triple chip cookie with chocolate, butterscotch and potato chips.

Build-out is currently underway, and the pair are hoping for a summer opening. The former gallery space, tucked between Pussy & Pooch and Las Perlas, offered up some surprises when work first got underway.

A mystery door on the other side of the gallery's bathroom uncovered the remnants of a former Chinese restaurant, with a large wok station and an ancient grease-splattered back-splash area and hood.

Fong credits Brady Westwater with first pointing her to the space. Tyler Murphy of the Robin Group negotiated the lease, which was finalized on January 1.

While plans may change before opening, the pair anticipate opening at 7:30am for breakfast, closing at 4pm and re-opening in the evening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9pm to 3am to serve late-night snackers and bar-hoppers.

Semi Sweet Bakery / 105 E. 6th / Tentatively opening Summer 2011

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