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Thursday, 28 April 2011



Just a reminder, Charlie's Best Breads are available at most Farmer's Markets around San Diego. I used to be a vendor at Hillcrest and LOVED their breads, especially their olive bread. I sure miss that bread.


Hello and welcome to our Blog, dawnie. Thanks for the Farmers Market reminder. Since there are more than 50 markets in the county, not all of the bread vendors are from Charlie's. I really like the bread from here as well as supporting a local company. Finding the deli was a bonus.


That's an interesting take on a pastrami sandwich! I'm glad it turned out to be a good combination.


I sort of wanted a grilled cheese, Alyssa, but only saw a veggie cobb on rosemary and none of the paninis were meatless (there is a Mozzarella, tomato, pesto and Proscuitto on your choice of bread panini so that may be interesting without the Proscuitto), so I decided to just try a 'basic' sandwich as a first time sandwich. It did work and so now I am curious about the other combinations.


Wow the inside looks exactly like it did before Con Panne left for Liberty Station. I too love their breads and buy them at the Hillcrest Farmers Market when I can. The cheese bread is amazing!


I love pastrami sandwiches but not sure how I'd like apple in it. Hmm, kind of a (West coast) traditionalist when it comes to that. But I wouldn't say no to it! That's a good looking bagette.


You know, I never went inside Con Pane, James. Silly of me. I will be in the Point Loma area a lot more and will probably drop into this Charlie's location more often. I am not liking the crowds at some of the Farmers Markets, even though I try to go early.
It was a completely unexpected sandwich and yet the flavor combination worked out, Carol. They must have market tested it and so that makes me curious to try someof the other (non-sensical flavor combinations in my brain) sandwiches. Did I mention the bread was not toasted or warm? Yet it worked. The baguette was absolutely perfect; Tasted like I was in France, at a good boulangerie.


I think it's really tacky that they have try to look like Con Pane, from the design of the front counter, to the chalk boards, to the red umbrellas to copying thier menu. The straight out stole the Turkey Cobb and Veggie Cobb directly from Con Pane's menu. I've heard they've even stooped to telling customers looking for Con Pane that they've gone out of business or that Charlie's bought them out. Competition is one thing, but straight out lying to customers is another!


Hi Andrea, and welcome to our blog. Since Charlie's is a bakery that took over a bakery location, it didn't have to change much the footprint of the building or the decorations; I think Con Pane left their old umbrellas and tables when they moved. Charlie's has been in San Diego for almost 30 years and Con Pane about ten years so it seems that similar menu items would have been copied by the newer company. In any case, people who have been loyal to Con Pane knew when and where it was relocating for months before it left this location.

Catherine Perez

A customer brought to my attention her post on your blog and your response. With all due respect, your response contains many inaccuracies I’d like to clarify.

Your statement that Charlie’s didn’t have to change much of the decorations is incorrect. When we vacated our former location on Rosecrans Street, per our lease, we took everything with us including our chairs, tables and umbrellas, the service counter and the light fixtures above the counter and in the seating area – all we left behind were the walls and the restroom. This left Victor Zayas, the current owner of Charlie’s Bakery, a blank slate with which he could have created a design similar to the long standing Charlie’s in Pacific Beach or a brand new design for the his new concept. Instead, Mr. Zayas copied the Con Pane design and built a brand new front counter and display case that looked and was sized exactly like the previous Con Pane counter, changing only the color. In addition, he installed light fixtures that mirror the light fixtures Con Pane previously had in place. With all of the color option available to him, Mr. Zayas picked a color palate very similar to Con Pane for his walls and floor. As I stated earlier, I did not leave behind my tables and umbrellas – they are here at our new location. However, Mr. Zayas choose tables and chairs that looked so similar to ours that you believed I left them behind. And, with all the color options available in umbrellas, he purchased the exact same umbrellas in the exact same color as Con Pane. Two of your readers, not to mention other bloggers, yelpers and a good majority of our customers have commented on his choice to create a similar look and menu to ours.

Your statement that because Charlie’s is older than Con Pane, we must have copied their menu is also incorrect. Charlie’s Bakery was started by Charlie Higginbotham as a Great Harvest Franchise which focused on American style, yeasted, primarily whole wheat based bread. Charlie later dropped the franchise, changed the name, but continued with the same style of bread and added a small line of pastries. He grew the business into a successful, well known bread bakery then sold it to Victor Zayas in November of 2009. Mr. Zayas opened the café on Rosecrans in September of 2010. At no time prior to the opening of the café in 2010 did Charlie’s Bakery ever serve sandwiches. I opened Con Pane in June of 1999 and served sandwiches I created from the day we opened our doors. So, since I began serving sandwiches eleven years before Charlie’s, it would impossible for me to copy their menu as you implied. When I put together the menu for Con Pane, from breads, to sandwiches, to pastries, I strove to create flavor combinations unique to Con Pane. This is most evident in the two sandwiches for which Con Pane has become best known, the Turkey Cobb sandwich and the Veggie Cobb Sandwich; two sandwiches which Mr. Zayas blatantly copied verbatim on his initial menu. In addition to copying these two sandwiches, he also copied my chocolate brioche twist, my garlic, tomato, and cream cheese focaccia and most of my artisan bread menu – verbatim. Prior to opening the café, Charlie’s did not bake artisan bread. Google any of these items and you can see where the ideas originated and to which bakery they are associated.

In intellectual property there is something called Trade Dress. Trade Dress generally refers to characteristics of the visual appearance of a product or its packaging or the design of a business that signifies the source of the product to consumers. Trade dress protection is intended to protect consumers from the appearance of products or a business that are designed to imitate other products or businesses; to prevent a consumer from buying one product under the belief that it is another. It is under this protection that Mr. Zayas was forced to make changes to his menu to remove or change those menu items he copied from us including changing the name of the Turkey Cobb to the Turkey Club and changing the cheese to Swiss in both the Turkey Cobb and the Veggie Cobb sandwiches. He also removed the chocolate brioche twist, the pearl sugar brioche and the garlic tomato and cream cheese focaccia from his menu.

Lastly, although we are fortunate to have a loyal follow that continue to support us at our new location, some of our customers do not live close by, only visiting us a few times a year or when they are in town and did not know we had moved. We have heard countless stories from these customers who had gone to our old location and went into Charlie’s. Some recognized the change; some did not – until they tasted the food. Those that asked “what happened to Con Pane?” were given different stories ranging from being told we moved to Liberty Station (rare) to being told we went out of business, and most recently, that Charlie’s had bought us out. Given the description provided by these customers, it appears to be Mr. Zayas who is providing most of the misinformation.

I am always amazed at all of the unique designs and food restaurant and bakery owners come up with. Yet, with a completely blank slate and all of the design option, colors schemes and interesting menu items available to him, Mr. Zayas chose a design and color scheme almost identical to Con Pane and yet nothing like the long standing Charlie’s in Pacific Beach. And instead of creating a unique menu based on the reputation of Charlie’s Breads, Mr. Zayas copied selections from Con Pane’s menu. My only guess is that Mr. Zayas wanted a short cut, so why not just copy a proven business instead of risking creating something unique. For me, creating something unique is why I started the bakery and it continues to drive me every day.

In starting the bakery from scratch to running and growing the bakery over the past 13 years, I have spent a significant amount of time and energy not to mention expense seeing to every detail from working with the carpenter on every aspect of both the original counter to the counter at the new bakery, to comparing paint swatches to sampling 6 different types of bacon to find just the right one, to making batch after batch of roasted tomato to come up with just the right spice mix and texture. It is this attention to detail that has made us successful. It is my hard work and sacrifice that makes Mr. Zayas attempts to pass his business off as Con Pane and blatantly copy our design and menu so reprehensible and downright dishonest.


Hi Catherine. I blogged about a meal I had at Charlie's Best more than 13 months ago. The comment about copying design, menu and stories about your business was made two days ago by someone who had never commented on this blog. I answered briefly on an old post about non-food oriented statements as well as statements about your business and it's menu, which I have not posted about nor researched.

I am sorry that your customers are still going to your old location, but glad they are eventually able to find your new location.

Thanks for the details of the background of your business.

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