Two Sweet Spots Open in Downtown Santa Cruz

Alongside nearly a dozen new downtown restaurants featuring carefully curated farm-to-table menu items, two new spots dedicated to soothing one’s sweet tooth have opened their doors in Santa Cruz. Both locally-owned shops are designed to feature a singular product, crafted with care – bringing the total number of sugar-forward businesses in Downtown Santa Cruz to a half-dozen. Now, pastry and chocolate lovers can celebrate concurrently, with the opening of Rock and Roll Donut Bar and Ashby Confections, the shops’ locations essentially across the street from one another. 

Since 2004, Jennifer Ashby has crafted handmade sweets for her Scotts Valley-based Ashby Confections. This year, she is elevating her exposure with a move to pedestrian-friendly Pacific Avenue in the heart of Downtown Santa Cruz. Her success has earned her numerous awards and a loyal following of chocolate lovers.  The Marsh Bars are her specialty: marshmallows dipped in chocolate and rolled in graham cracker on a pretzel stick.  

Across the street, Rock and Roll Donut Bar has opened its second high-profile location, following its original shop on Cannery Row in Monterey. This all-vegan, sweet boutique will also prepare gluten-free donuts on request. An abundance of creative choices include a jelly-stuffed PB&J with peanut butter icing and a Piña Colada favored donut packed with rum-pineapple filling and covered in coconut shavings, pineapple, a cherry and an umbrella. The Elvis features banana whipped cream, chocolate icing and crushed peanuts. Savory items like donut sliders with choice of burger, sausage, egg or all three with grilled onions, cheese, microgreens, and pesto or tomato jam sauce; the Grilled Cheese with or without grilled onions and pesto; and the Sloppy Joe cut open like a pita bread and stuffed with meat, cheese, onions and a choice of sauce. A glass-enclosed front patio takes advantage of virtually year-around sunny weather and is an engaging place to people-watch.  

These two new downtown shops join four others which exclusively feature ice cream, cookies, and candy: The Penny Ice Creamery, Mission Creamery, Pacific Cookie Company, and It’s Sugar.