"To make the Highest Quality Product in the
Most Respectful Manner possible."
Don & Becky Hein
Lawrence Haber, Nick Ljubic, Don Hein, Armand Amoranto & Michele Amoranto
at contract signing.
Owners - Little Cakes Kitchen
and Little Cakes at Gelson's
Starting Little Cakes Kitchen in Vista back in 2010, owners Don and Becky Hein were excited to create a local, family run bakery in the town they called home. They have been Vista residents for the past 10+ years, and have always been strong supporters of local small businesses in the community. After many years in the corporate and managerial world, Don found himself in 2010 looking for a new and fulfilling experience. He was led back to his roots, coming from a family full of self-starters and business owners, which includes several bakeries. His brother, Mike Hein, and brother's partner, Tony Portugal, run Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company in Seattle, and they inspired Don to begin the adventure himself. They graciously shared many of their star recipes and flavors, including Pancakes and Bacon and French Toast.
Don and his wife Becky have always enjoyed hosting friends at their home and most of all, feeding people. Their belief is that crafting food and serving it to someone is one of the most sincere expressions of love. Little Cakes has fulfilled the couple's dream of running a local bakery offering the highest quality product in their own community.
Expanding into the Gelson's family has been an amazing experience and one with quite a story. Longtime Gelson's shopper, Lawrence Haber, walked into Little Cakes one day sharing his thought that he believed their product would do well inside of Gelson's. Don thought so too, but wondered how anyone could make it happen. Lawrence, having had a very successful career matching merchants in the garment industry, went off and worked his magic. In just under one year, Don was presenting to the CEO of Gelson's and being told by their management his presentation was, "A Grand Slam. Not a Home Run, mind you, but a Grand Slam." And now, here we are, offering Little Cakes products inside one of the top premium markets in the US.
But regardless of where the product is sold, the philosophy remains the same. “Our goal is to have customers walk in and feel like they entered a friend's home. A friend who just happens to have some gourmet desserts on the counter they would love to share. Whether you buy one dessert or a hundred, you're treated respectfully and you walk away happier than when you walked in. We're not doing our job right if we don't make your day just a little bit brighter.”
- Don Hein, Little Cakes Kitchen Vista Shop Owner / Little Cakes at Gelson's General Manager & CEO.
Owners - Little Cakes at Gelson's
When oldest daughter, Alyssa, set out to raise funds for a school trip by making & selling cupcakes, she had no idea what road this would lead her family down. Armand, a high school science teacher with 22 years experience, found the experience so exciting, he launched himself into becoming an entrepreneur, looking to open his own bakery. This lead him to Don Hein, first simply for advice from someone with experience, but soon the two struck up a conversation. They are still very much continuing this conversation, because now they are co-owners of Little Cakes Kitchen at Gelson's.
Armand has taken on the role of CFO, offering up his love of numbers and data as well as making sure to sample and offer feedback on all the desserts, having quite the sweet tooth. His wife, Michele, has taken on a number of roles as well, including running the fundraising arm of the company, offering schools and non-profits the chance to sell cupcakes to raise money (something the family had such success with in the first place).
The Amorantos have brought even more warmth to the Little Cakes name, sharing their strong family bond and their unique view to ensure the company never forgets to focus on "Building Relationships" with every person we encounter. It's just another facet of Team Little Cakes, one that fits well into the overall motto of ensuring the company treats everyone in the most respectful manner possible.
Armand, Michele, Nicholas, Alyssa, Jessica and Vanessa
Alyssa and the cupcake fundraiser that inspired dad!
Nick & Marika Ljubic
Owners - Little Cakes at Gelson's
The Ljubic Family is pleased to be joining the Little Cakes team after working with and knowing The Hein Family for years. Don Hein and Nick Ljubic have worked together many times, even co-emceeing the local Vista Christmas Parade for the past several years. The Ljubics have been longtime fans and supporters not only of Little Cakes Kitchen in their hometown of Vista, but also of Gelson's Markets. When the opportunity presented itself to work together, Nick enthusiastically looked forward to offering not only his skill set, as an owner of several small businesses and President of his local Chamber of Commerce, but also the immense talents of his mother, Maria (or Marika, the Croatian variation of her name).
Mama Marika's Cookies, offered exclusively at Little Cakes Kitchen at Gelson's, are a collection of generations-old recipes Marika has been making for her family for decades. Ljubic family gatherings are not complete without her signature Waffle Cookies, Walnut Kefle and Phoenix Moon Crescents. Having been a longtime Gelson's shopper, Mama Marika is very proud to have her longtime family recipes shared with customers who expect nothing but the highest quality. Check our schedule of events to see when you can sample Mama Marika's cookies for yourself, potentially having them served by Mama Marika herself!