When Central Coast natives Lalo and Jamie Tejeda met in San Luis Obispo in 2011 little did they know wedding cakes would be their future, with one of the first cakes being their own.
Prior to saying, “I Do,” the couple relocated to Sonoma’s wine country for two years before moving back to San Luis Obispo County where they were married in early 2016 and bought a Grover Beach-based bakery—Lickety Split—all within five months of tying the knot.
The Tejeda’s just celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary in January and will mark the bakery’s two-year anniversary in May, which also underwent a recent name change to Pardon My French.
“I was looking for something new,” Lalo Tejeda explained about taking over the small bakery from its previous owner, who only sold cupcakes. “We had a five-year plan and opened this five months after we got married. We wanted it. We just had no idea it was going to be so quick, but it was such a good opportunity we had to do it.”
Tejeda trained at Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts in Minnesota, where he underwent an intense two-year program and learned all there was to know about the fine art of French pastries, which he brought with him back to the Central Coast.
A highlight of Tejeda’s role at the bakery is helping his customers understand what the delicacies are—a financier, mousse bombe or Buche de Noel to name just a few—they’re eyeing in his display case, and each day, they may find different treats behind the glass.
“I like that,” the 34-year-old Tejeda said about introducing his customers to pastries they have never tasted or even heard of before walking through his doors. “This area needs to learn.”
On any given day at Pardon My French, there could be a anything from red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to pineapple Tajin macaroons and French baguettes to a dark chocolate mousse or chocolate caramel tart, and so much more. The possibilities are endless, really, and you definitely don’t know what may be in the case on any given day until you walk into the bakery.
(“He) likes changing it up … and introducing this area to new things people wouldn’t experience, and teaching people about true French pastries is really neat for him,” Jamie Tejeda, 32, said. “It’s not always going to be the same stuff here. He does a lot of seasonal stuff. We are constantly trying out new things and we’re going to be constantly changing to keep people on their toes.”
The couple changed the name of the bakery on the one-year anniversary of owning the sweets shop to reflect more of the French fare offerings that Tejeda creates daily from scratch.
“We bake fresh every day,” Jamie Tejeda said about the dozens of creations her husband whips up behind the scenes in the kitchen at Pardon My French, while she helps run the front of the house and handles all of the bakery’s bookkeeping work.
Jamie studied event management and planning at Cal Poly before marrying Tejeda and had always dreamed of owning a small coffeehouse, where people would come to enjoy a cup of coffee, study, read a book or just relax. Prior to her own marriage, her jobs in the food and beverage industry lent her to help couples plan their wedding day but not in the way she gets to do now at the bakery.
“It’s such a big day for them and you get to be a part of it,” she said. “When you get to see the outcome of this thing you have been building and this dream they have been building, and you get to see it all come to life, it is a reward.”
When the Tejedas took over Lickety Split, the then-owner had seven weddings on the books. The newlyweds completed the orders and finished with 27 weddings that first year. Last year, they did 85 to 90 weddings and have already booked close to 35 for this year.
“You have to do weddings. That is where the money’s at,” Tejeda explained about being in the bakery business, adding orders for a couple’s big day are fairly evenly spilt between traditional wedding cakes, cupcakes and dessert bars.
Tejeda laughs that no one in his family cooked when he was growing up—his great-grandfather owned a bakery in Mexico, although he never knew the man or visited the establishment—and his passion for being in the kitchen came from a sense of practicality.
“For me, by the time I got in art school and culinary school, I wasn’t 17 or 18,” Tejeda said. “I was more ambitious and needed to get a job.”
When Tejeda, who was raised in Lompoc, where his parents owned a small deli, started culinary school, he had already been out of high school for several years, had an associate’s degree under his belt and knew his next educational choice needed to lead to a career.
He originally went to Minnesota to attend furniture design school but after a semester of classes, Tejeda knew the courses were simply too expensive and he needed to find another avenue for his future career path. He chose pastries.
“I always really enjoyed the idea of pastries and it’s artistic and creative,” Tejeda said. “It was just practical. People eat. There’s food everywhere. You can live anywhere. So it all made sense to do it.”
He also laughs that people think he has an easy job because he gets to work for himself and they also believe he gets to sit around all day decorating cakes, which Tejeda said couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Decorating cakes is fun,” Tejeda said. “It’s really fun. But that’s only two percent of my job. The rest of it is hard work. People don’t see that. They just think I decorate cakes all day. No. It’s scrambling … and I am sprinting back there to get everything out by 8 a.m.”
Tejeda has dreams of one day visiting Mexico and seeing his great-grandfather’s bakery—Pan Tejeda—but in the meantime his and Jamie’s current five-year plan includes expanding and opening a location in San Luis Obispo to help them capture those North County brides and grooms they aren’t seeing now.
Pardon My French is located at 1544 W. Grand Ave., Grover Beach. The bakery opens at 8 a.m. and is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For more information, call (805) 481-3255 or email info@pardonmyfrench.
Follow the bakery on Instagram @pardonmyfrenchslo, too. It’s the best way to know what Tejeda is putting into his display case on a daily basis. Also a huge fan of tiki, Tejeda often posts tiki trivia on the bakery’s Instagram page, offering free sweet treats to the first person who comes through the doors with the correct answer.