It's the fresh way for Pacific Whey

August 06, 2004

Greer Wylder

Pacific Whey's growth from a small, 1,000-square-foot neighborhood

bakery to an all-day cafe known for its terrific homemade comfort

food has attracted fans from everywhere.

In September, Pacific Whey Cafe and Baking Company moves to Ladera

Ranch, a new South Orange County community. Another one will open

this fall at the Lake Las Vegas luxury resort, just 17 miles from the


Las Vegas Strip, and Palm Springs will have its own location in

spring 2005. Each month, Pacific Whey is approached by about 50

investors wanting to open another location.

The company started in 1995, when Haute Cakes Cafe co-founder and

executive chef Gina De Michael sold her share of the popular cafe at

Westcliff Court. She turned around and opened Pacific Whey Cafe and

Baking Company at the Newport Hills Shopping Center.

A baker by trade, De Michael could show off her talents at Pacific

Whey, creating signature cookies, tarts and pastries. As business

increased, De Michael expanded her offerings to include fresh

homemade lunches, and in 2002, she brought out home-style dinners.

Along the way, De Michael entered into a partnership with Cheryl

Clancy and Marc Wilsey, who contribute to every end of the


In March 2003, the partners opened a spectacular second Pacific

Whey Cafe and Baking Company at Crystal Cove Promenade on the Newport

Coast. Even with a soft opening (they didn't advertise), news spread

quickly by word of mouth. During their first two days in business,

they served more than 1,000 meals. Lines formed out the door.

On Saturdays and Sundays, this location regularly serves up to

1,200 people. Soon they will add an additional 1,500 square feet to

accommodate a larger kitchen to meet the huge catering and delivery

demands. They'll also add more bathrooms and an express area that

will serve homemade ice creams and gelato.

While both sites serve the same made-from-scratch foods, the

Crystal Cove Promenade serves as the prototype for future locations.

"We wanted to build something we can easily replicate," Wilsey

said. "[Someplace] where people can say, it smells like, tastes like,

feels like, Pacific Whey."

The owners visited historic cafes and bakeries in San Francisco,

borrowing classic European design cues, including a white Carrera

marble pastry case, community tables made by Aspen Elegance, a rock

wall, a vintage poster wall and a silver patina ceiling. These

details can easily be translated to new locations. The footprint for

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