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Art Cafe and Bakery is back in town 

The aroma of fresh-baked bread has returned to the Creamery

What is it about this place? Is it the killer desserts, the over-the-top sandwiches, or the chance to bump into Oprah Winfrey? Or is it all of the above?

After feasting on Margaux Sky's incredible curry sandwich a few

click to enlarge PH0TO BY JESSE ACOSTA
  • PH0TO BY JESSE ACOSTA
# years ago, Oprah touted Sky as the "best sandwich maker in America." Admirers of Sky's culinary talents lined up at the Art Cafe and Bakery for a chance to experience homemade breads stuffed with delicious fillings.

Sky penned a cookbook, put the Art Cafe up for sale, and worked to make her breads available from Australia to Great Britain through her online baking company.

A few months ago, its new owner Donna Nozzi said goodbye to the old Art Cafe the funky hot spot served incredible sandwiches and had attracted Oprah fans by the droves from just about everywhere, but dissuaded locals by serving overpriced dishes such as an $8 peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Unlike her predecessor, Nozzi doesn't pander to the star-struck tourist crowd. She has lowered prices by as much as 50 percent and opened for dinner.

The menu, however, still features Sky's sandwich of curried chicken on spicy white pepper-jack bread Oprah's favorite as well as a collection of Sky's legendary dishes. Nozzi mixed in a few of her beloved family recipes, producing a menu abounding with freshly made soups, breads, and dressings. Nozzi creates her culinary masterpieces with select organic ingredients purchased primarily from local vendors.

"I learned all my baking from my mom and my grandmother," Nozzi said. "Our bakery items change daily depending what mood I'm in at three in the morning. That's the fun of it, creating whatever I want."

Every morning, soups and breads are made fresh, and every evening the unsold delicacies are donated to the homeless shelter.

"Everything's made fresh here each morning using fresh, local, organic ingredients," Nozzi said.

A contemporary decor including a modern breakfast bar and stamped terracotta concrete floors brings a fresh lustre to the cafe. The scent of baked delicacies fills the air and the creations of local artists line the walls. Nozzi's culinary handiwork mirrors the visual delight of local artists Abbey Onikoyi and Shannon Marsh McClure.

"We put out a call for artists through the Arts Council," Nozzi added. "Our goal is

to promote art at the Creamery. We don't charge the artist a commission or hanging fee."

On Nov. 5, Sky will return to the Art Cafe to sign copies of her first cookbook, Beautiful Breads and Fabulous Fillings. In addition to a collection of Sky's tasty secrets, the book is chock full of tips and insights on how to elevate sandwich-making to a higher realm. Alongside recipes for her famous sandwiches, Sky includes instructions for crafting breads, salads, and desserts that are guaranteed to tantalize the palate.

The restaurant offers a full-service barista menu, featuring Wolf Coffees, an extensive list of muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, and desserts. The grilled chicken tenderloin sandwich layered with provolone or pepper jack cheese and caramelized onions is a customer favorite. Few guests will complain about the prices, which range from $4 to $8.95 for a sandwich.

The Art Cafe and Bakery is located in the Creamery at 570 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo. It's open for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and for lunch from 11 a.m. to 7 pm., seven days a week. For more info call 548-8570.

Staff Writer Karen Velie compiled this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to kvelie@newtimesslo.com.

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