Walk into Soda Row’s new Swirly Girls Gourmet Bakery and swimsuit season suddenly feels light years away. Truly, resistance is futile when you see the neat rows of raspberry Danish, éclairs and fresh croissants hand-rolled through the night by a European-trained pastry chef. As owner Amberleigh Farrell sighs, “A ham and cheese croissant should be what a girl eats every morning. Authentic and European — crunchy on the outside, flaky on the inside.”
Although their colleague takes care of the night shift, Amberleigh and co-owner, Debi Jensen, are responsible for all the other exquisite goodies at Swirly Girls. Each hour is a sweet revelation, as an ever-changing menu of deliciousness pops out warm from the oven: cookies, cakes, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls. And don’t forget the cake truffles, wondrous bite-sized cakes dipped in exquisite French Valrhona chocolate.
Happily manning the ovens each day, Debi and Amberleigh are living the dream. “For 15 years I said ‘I’m going to open a bakery,'” recalls Debi, a 25-year sales and management veteran in the bakery industry. She found an eager partner in Amberleigh, whose own foodie background includes event planning and hotel catering sales. After these across-the-street neighbors put together the food and decorations for a relative’s wedding, they were sure they’d be great partners.
As Daybreak residents, they knew SoDa Row was the perfect location. “Daybreak is such a unique community,” says Amberleigh. “It’s so fun being the neighborhood bakery. People come in to hang out, read the paper and have their morning croissant and coffee. Everyone wants us to do well.” In fact, hardly a day goes by without serving breakfast to employees at the software company upstairs, and catering lunches for other Daybreak businesses has picked up too. In contrast with a strip mall location, Amberleigh says, “Our customers are our neighbors. We’re close and convenient, so they can walk or bike over to justify the peanut butter cheesecake brownie they’re about to eat.” Or the caramel sticky buns. Or the white chocolate almond raspberry bars — all favorites on this duo’s evolving menu. “We’re always inventing new treats for the shop,” says Amberleigh with glee. “And we can because we own it!”