Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bakesale Betty's

Bakesale Betty, whose real name is Alison Barakat, came to the United States from Australia in 2000. Her love of food led her to restaurant positions in the Bay Area and eventually to her own baked-goods stand at the Danville and Walnut Creek Farmer's Markets.

Betty always wore, and still does wear, a bright blue wig. At her stand, she displayed her baked goods on ironing boards.

She made the best scones, sticky buns, cookies, lemon bars, and other delectables. She married Michael and they continued to work the Farmer's Market together. For many of us, a Sunday morning stop at Bakesale Betty's stand was the highlight of our weekend.

At some point in time, Betty and Michael opened a bakery in the Temescal district of Oakland. The first of their, now three, children arrived and they decided to concentrate their efforts on their shop and no longer have stands at Farmer's Market.

In addition to baked goods of all sorts, they served sandwiches at lunchtime.  The most popular of the sandwiches was the Fried Chicken with Spicy Cole Slaw on a torpedo bun. People flocked to Betty's for the sandwiches...and usually came home with some baked goods as well.

Most recently, Betty and Michael expanded to a second location in downtown Oakland. Now they are closing the downtown spot and consolidating all their operations to the shop in the Temescal.

It's been three years since I last had a Fried Chicken Sandwich at Betty's...not for wanting one, but just time, schedules, and life simply didn't get me over there.

Today, Mary Ann and I, after many years of talking about doing it, finally went for lunch.

Betty's is only open between noon and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

We got there at noon and were surprised to see a line that stretched way way down the block. We fed our meter a copious number of quarters and got in line.

Betty and one of her employees were working the line...checking on how many sandwiches each of us was getting and giving us time estimates until we'd reached the door.

At 45 minutes, the exact time Betty told us we'd have to wait, we made it to the counter, got our sandwiches, cups of lemonade, and some cookies to take home. The only other food being sold was Betty's famous Strawberry Shortcake...we should have shared one...I'm now remembering how good her shortcakes were.

Then, it was back out on the sidewalk to sit on stools at one of the many ironing boards that are set up on the sidewalk and which serve as the outdoor seating and eating areas.

Was it worth the wait...I think the look on Mary Ann's face tells it all...OF COURSE IT WAS!!!

And, when we left, there was still a line waiting to get in.

Right now, with Betty's limited hours, they sell only limited amounts of baked goods at this location. They have closed the downtown location but still do baking there. Their web site says they take phone orders each morning from 9:30 until 11:00 a.m. I don't know if these orders are for baked goods or sandwiches.

Their future plans include keeping the Temescal location open, perhaps with longer hours. Another perhaps is that they will offer more food choices for lunch. But nothing is certain. And, for now, that Fried Chicken Sandwich is certainly worth a special trip/detour. Have the Shortcake too...and buy whatever baked goods they have...take them home to enjoy now or freeze for later.