Love Bites says planned location 'didn't work out'
In spite of a public announcement and a warm reception from the City Council in December, it now appears that the future Love Bites by Carnie bakery will not be opening in its original planned location on Pilkington Road in Lake Oswego.
"The Pilkington Road location in Lake Oswego did not work out for Love Bites by Carnie," the company's contracted PR agency told The Review last week, "but they are looking forward to settling into a new space and will share more information soon."
Love Bites is a bite-size cheesecake business created by Carnie Wilson, the daughter of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson and a musical star in her own right with her band, Wilson Phillips. At a council meeting in December, Wilson and business partner Tiffany Miller outlined their plans for the bakery and offered peppermint cheesecake samples to admiring councilors.
"It's called Love Bites by Carnie because every single dessert is made with love," Wilson said at the time. "These recipes are mine. I've been working on them for 12 years, and I love them and I love feeding people."
Wilson and Miller, a Lake Oswego resident, had originally planned to open the company's headquarters in a building at the corner of Pilkington and Boones Ferry roads in the city's Southwest Employment Area. The envisioned facility would have produced 30,000-50,000 bite-size cheesecakes a month and included a small retail area in the front.
But Love Bites' application revealed an oversight in the City's commercial code: The Southwest Employment Area prohibits small retail establishments, including bakeries. That prohibition extends to industrial-scale bakeries like Love Bites, even though other types of industrial-scale food production are allowed in the district.
"When we adopted the commercial code streamlining amendments, the definition of 'bakery' was so broad that it included production bakeries," said City Planning Manager Jessica Numanoglu. "That wasn't a specific intent — we weren't trying to single out bakery uses from other food production and processing."
Because the prohibition was unintentional, the City Council was receptive when Wilson and Miller asked officials to change the code to allow Love Bites to open, and staff have been working since then to draft a code update. So it came as a surprise last week when the company's lawyer told the City that they were no longer moving forward at the planned location.
"Initially they were going to be involved in the amendment process," Numanoglu said. "They wanted to be kept apprised of it."
When reached for comment this week, Miller told The Review that the original site didn't work out, but she offered no further details. She also declined to specify where the business now intends to open, saying only that it would be in a "roughly" similar location.
"We couldn't come to an agreement, so we moved to a different space," she said. "We're not ready to announce where that is yet."
The code change is still moving forward, however, and the Planning Commission is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on the proposed changes Monday. Numanoglu said the City views the change as a necessary fix to the general code rather than a specific exception for Love Bites.
"Even though this business apparently may not go in that location, the direction from Council was, 'Let's fix this issue,'" she said. "So that's why we're moving forward. Regardless of whether that bakery goes there, we think it's an issue that ought to be addressed, and it's a simple code amendment."
If approved by the commission and City Council, the new rules would allow production bakeries in the zone, provided that any attached retail area is less than 2,000 square feet and does not include a drive-thru. Numanoglu said those rules are similar to the restrictions placed on other types of food production.
"Basically what that means is you could have a food production facility of any size or scale, provided that any accessory retail component of it doesn't exceed 2,000 square feet," she said. "Or you could have a simple retail bakery, but it has to be in a building with another permitted use."
Editor's note: This story has been updated to show the correct date for the Planning Commission meeting. The meeting will be held on Monday, Feb 13.