Earlier this year, GK Pastry started selling their signature 4- and 8-ounce jar cakes at every known farmer’s market between Monterey and Menlo Park. By the end of 2023, GK Pastry will have opened two locations to sell cakes, cookies and pastries.
At the beginning of November, Hasan Musa and his family’s first retail space opened in Palo Alto. While city permits are still pending approval for the opening of a second shop in Mountain View, Musa believes they’ll be open for business there before the new year begins.
“We definitely needed one location with a kitchen,” Musa said in a recent telephone interview. While he and his family were looking for available retail spaces, they signed their first lease in Mountain View with a kitchen large enough to meet demand. At last count, the company’s website lists over a dozen farmer’s markets where their baked goods are for sale.
The family also happened upon the Palo Alto space at the same time. “It was simply amazing—from the atmosphere to the furniture,” Musa said. “When we took over the place, there were practically no remodeling costs.”
Musa is largely responsible for running the Palo Alto store, going to those innumerable farmer’s markets, and for sales in general. His mother, Gulnoza Khaytenova, is the cake and pastry chef.
Khaytenova and her family emigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan about five years ago. But it wasn’t until February that her husband and children encouraged her to start baking professionally. “We bought other cakes to try and her cake was so much better,” Hasan said. His mother had been on the lookout for a career after graduating from university and being a stay-at-home mom. “We told her, ‘Let’s just do it!’” he said.
They wanted to start GK Pastry with something unique so they landed upon cakes inside of a jar. At first, gourmet grocery stores weren’t receptive to the product. “But we noticed quite a few vendors selling cakes at farmer’s markets, so we applied,” Musa explained. “You could say it’s been a roller coaster ride.”
Musa and his family understood from the start that selling their products at farmer’s markets was a great way to establish a brand and word of mouth. But it wouldn’t allow for the company to grow in the way they wanted it to. By July, they had a plan in place to move into their own store.
Another seldom seen bakery item on GK’s menu is a crêpe cake (whole $85, slice $18). To contextualize the level of difficulty in making one, Prue Leith once presented a matcha mille crêpe cake as a technical challenge on The Great British Bake Off. Currently, Khaytenova makes three flavors to choose from—pistachio, mixed berries or vanilla. Musa said it takes an entire day for his mother to make one of them.
To jumpstart the business, Musa explained that everyone in his family is working seven days a week. After the Mountain View store opens, GK Pastry will start to expand the menu to include bread, cold sandwiches and croissants. Khaytenova has started to bake croissants for the retail shops. “About three or four days ago, I tried them a couple of times and they’re amazing,” Musa said proudly.
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2417 Park Blvd., Palo Alto