Local Business Highlight: Colossus Bread
UNDERGOES COLOSSAL EXPANSION
A NICHE BAKERY IN SAN PEDRO EXPANDS INTO A FULL-BLOWN PRODUCTION IN BELMONT SHORE.
By Lindsey Goodrow
Stepping through the door of this friendly neighborhood bakery, you are immediately greeted by smiling front-of-house staff who stand behind a long stretch of counter space strategically extended outward, allowing the experienced bakers ample working space in the bustling kitchen. The design of the space grants guests the fantastic opportunity to observe their baked goods being prepared and baked. The kitchen is wide-open, and you can watch as bakers prepare the croissants you will undoubtedly pick out from the tempting display case.
Pastry Chef and Owner, Kristin Colazas Rodriguez, opened this second location of Colossus in her hometown of Long Beach after the wild success of her first brick-and-mortar in nearby San Pedro. The two storefronts are a testament to her hard work, dedication, and the cult-following she has amassed since her small beginnings at farmers' markets.
100% WOMAN-OWNED, 100% LOCAL
Kristin Colazas Rodriguez is the owner and head pastry chef behind Colossus. Before she opened her first storefront—alongside her coffee-roasting and program director husband, Nick— to a delighted public, she spent years sharpening her baking skills and popping up at local farmers' markets with her delectable baked goods. Whipple Group was honored to have a moment to sit down with her and earn an exclusive look into the inner workings of her successful small business.
Rodriguez was born and raised in Long Beach, where she can trace her maternal roots back multiple generations. Her father used to be the principal of an elementary school in San Pedro, and she spent part of her childhood exploring the tide pools and hiking along the oceanside trails.
She moved away from Long Beach for college, but not culinary school. She studied history, minoring in Middle Eastern studies, and paid her way through school like many students do, by working in coffee shops. Eventually, she landed a government job in the non-profit sector, but the pay wasn't great, and the work wasn't rewarding. She stuck with it for as long as she could, but a thought began to weigh on her: "Why don't I do something I actually want to do?"
Rodriguez had always enjoyed working in cafes. At first, she thought she needed a big job with big pay to open up the cafe of her dreams—but then realized she just needed to go for it.
SAN PEDRO LOCATION
After a year of saving while working out of a Primal Alchemy, a catering kitchen, to prepare and bake pastries to sell at the farmers market, she was able to purchase a proper brick-and-mortar in San Pedro. With the bones of a previous cafe already in place, Colossus San Pedro opened in August 2019, and Rodriquez's pastries and coffee were an immediate success.
The line into the small, 700 sqft bakery wrapped around the block daily, presenting Rodriguez with a set of challenges. As a new small business owner, Rodriguez says she made the mistake of "underhiring and overcommitting. That first week, we were planning on being open from six to six, but then we completely sold out in two hours".
The area was in dire need of a bakery, as the many family-owned Croatian and Italian bakeries, such as Amalfitano, DiCarlo, and Ramona had shut down in the few years leading up to Colossus' opening. Rodriguez and her team were shocked by how quickly the San Pedro community opened its arms to them.
Word of mouth and a solid social media following helped the bakery thrive through the pandemic. So successful that it became necessary to open a second location where they could have a full-out production.
BELMONT SHORE LOCATION
Colossus Belmont Shore has a full-service kitchen serving breakfast items and sandwiches that highlight its phenomenal bread and incorporate fresh produce from the farmer's market.
It took this second location a little longer to get to the same level of community that they essentially walked into in San Pedro. Compared to Colossus San Pedro, Rodriguez says, "people [still] don't know who I am here. They don't know we're locally owned. They don't know we're 100% woman-owned. They don't know that we have a [full] kitchen. We've had to work a lot on getting the message out". But since opening this location in April of 2021, they have steadily grown their following and shown the community all that they are capable of.
Located on the second to last block of Second Street just before Livingston, the Colossus Belmont Shore signage reads BAKERY in white block letters. Families sit outside, joyfully munching on chocolate croissants, Kouign-amanns, and specialty sandwiches. Soon, crowds will gather in the evening to enjoy freshly baked pizzas paired with beer and wine that will come with their pending alcohol license.
Colossus is a superstar bakery that is locally-owned and woman-fronted—bringing joy to all those who wait in those lines that always wrap around the block.