Canyon Country moviegoers have a new hangout where they can grab a pre-flick coffee or catch an after-movie snack. It’s also a new venue for residents to get a fresh, handmade breakfast or lunch every day of the week.
Roast & Perk opened in October in the Edwards Stadium Theatre complex, next to Canyon Country Veterinary Hospital.
“I grew up in the restaurant industry,” said Karitza Gladden, who owns the café with her husband, Doron. “My parents owned a restaurant in downtown L.A., and from age 12 I was in the kitchen, a busser, a waitress … and then I was doing the back of the house. … I learned the business inside and out.”
Her family still has a Central American restaurant in Los Angeles.
“I’ve always loved baking and wanted to have a little café/bake shop,” she said. “And tie in my love for coffee.”
The couple works at Santa Clarita Christian School. Doron Gladden is a computer science teacher and Karitza does the coordination for the home school program at the local private school, which is across the street from Roast & Perk. Their older children – Mia, 12, and Michael, 11 – are SCCS students, and their youngest daughter, Emma, is 4 years old.
“We saw the location was available and thought, ‘Why don’t we go check it out?’” Karitza said. “We want more for our kids … what we can build for them.”
Roast & Perk began as a coffee shop with pre-baked goods, but a menu of fresh choices has grown out of the feedback the Gladdens got from customers.
“There was kind of a demand for lighter, healthy options for lunch,” Karitza said.
The café’s biggest hit is a pesto Italian sandwich, followed by the Greek toast, which is an open-faced Greek salad on toasted bread. It’s a vegetarian option.
“It’s nice and light and has all fresh and organic ingredients in it,” she said. “The feedback had people saying, ‘We don’t want to do fast food. We want healthy options without spending an arm or a leg for lunch.”
Karitza’s favorite menu item is the Caprese toast, which includes mozzarella and salami in a spring mix salad on toasted sourdough. Her favorite non-coffee drink is the acai berry lemonade, and her favorite coffee drink is called “L.A. Christmas.” It’s a spiced Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and a little bit of Irish cream.
The café is adding freshly made waffles to the menu for breakfast, along with other early morning options.
A number of the weekday customers are parents dropping off kids at SCCS and students who walk to Roast & Perk for acai bowls at the end of the day.
“For students it’s a great treat for after school,” said the business owner.
Karitza has different goals for weekend customers – mainly getting them to take notice, because Roast & Perk is on the west side of the complex.
“So far, people are getting to know us,” she said. “Moviegoers haven’t really recognized where we are because all of the food is on the left.”
There are currently two tables with benches indoors and two bistro sets outside. They plan to add seating as well.
Roast & Perk is open Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
They also host private events or parties. For example, a customer held a hand-lettering class at the venue. “We invited local teachers who want to create their own events. We make the space available for them and they create an event on facebook and sell their own tickets,” Karitza explained. “We’ll be rolling out our catering menu for holiday parties, office parties and our coffee catering too.”
The Gladden family moved to Santa Clarita in 2010 and currently live in Saugus. “It’s such a nice place to bring up a family,” Karitza said. “It’s a big valley, but still has that small town feel to it.”
Roast & Perk is located at 18836 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country; 661-367-4507.