A year ago, Some Crust Bakery was home to chatty lines of customers looking for a slice of goodness, and not just the confectionary kind. With its striped awning and handwritten signs, the charming business is a favorite for 5C students and staff, as well as local residents.
Bear claws, cakes, sandwiches and a mocha cookie whose recipe has been featured in the Los Angeles Times are all delicacies you can find at Some Crust Bakery, located in the Claremont Village. The beloved bakery has been in Claremont for over 100 years and has been owned by the Feemster family since 1997.
“We saw lots and lots of students. We had a pretty loyal clientele of students and a pretty loyal clientele of faculty too,” said Scott Feemster, Some Crust Bakery’s general manager.
When 5C students were sent home this past March, the previously well-populated bakery felt their absence right away.
“Our business definitely dropped off a cliff there for a few weeks, and we went from being very busy, especially on the weekends, to not very busy at all,” Feemster said.
The bakery’s drop in business followed a national trend where restaurants and businesses in college towns lost revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to losing business from students and faculty, business from the general Claremont population also declined.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, our business probably went down about 50 to 60 percent. Since then, it’s gotten better, but it’s still not great … At this point, I’m just going to make a rough estimate and say it’s down probably about 30 percent from where it was a year ago,” Feemster said.
Throughout the summer, the bakery owners kept an ear out for updates about the 5Cs’ fall semester.
“I was pretty religious about checking the different college websites about every week or so, because you’re like, ‘Oh, I wonder if they’ll come back in the fall,’” Feemster said.
However, by August, it became clear to the owners that students were not going to come back to campus.
“We were disappointed, but all of this disappointment is kind of tempered with the fact that we want everybody to be safe and to feel safe. It’s disappointing from a business point of view, but we also realize that everybody needs to stay safe,” Feemster said.
As of right now, the bakery is not paying very close attention to updates about a potential campus reopening for the spring semester, but they are cautiously optimistic that there will be a reopening during which students can return to campus.
“We’re getting dizzy right now with the holiday season, and our business is definitely starting to pick up again,” Feemster said. “Obviously, it would be nice if there are protocols in place where the students can come back in the spring, but I think that’s still kind of an up in [the] air proposition … We just have to do the best we can.”
However, even if there is a reopening, the bakery worries about what the policies will look like.
“I’m just kind of concerned about how they’re going to [reopen] and keep everybody safe, especially before they come out with some sort of inoculation against the virus,” Feemster said.
Regardless of the missed presence of 5C students, the bakery will continue to follow the safety protocols that they already put in place. These include having hand sanitizer stations in the cafe, getting rid of tables that were inside the bakery, only allowing four people in at a time and having all employees wear masks and regularly wash their hands.
While navigating the pandemic has not been a piece of cake for Some Crust Bakery, they are simply grateful to have stayed open and kept all of their employees, affectionately called “Crusties.” Although they had to cut operation hours and faced a decline in business, the cult favorite location is still standing.
“We’re just really, really pleased on our end that we’ve been able to stay in business,” Feemster said. “We feel like we’re kind of an institution in Claremont, and we were really proud to make all the food and all the things that people enjoy.”