When Julie Wiggs made the decision to sell her Ceres pizzeria she had no intention of selling the family name and the secret recipes to Bob’s Take-N-Bake pizzas. But when a family member saw the business for sale on social media, she called her cousin and told her they wanted a piece of the pie.
Cheryl Pometta called Wiggs and mentioned that her daughter was interested in buying the business, which was started in 1983 by Bob and Linda Wiggs -- Julie’s parents and Pometta’s uncle and aunt. Both Pometta and her daughter, Lacey, had worked for Bob’s at one time or another, so they already understood the operation of the business.
“At first I was hesitant to sell the business altogether, but I knew I had to do it,” said Wiggs, a mother of three, a soon-to-be grandmother who is busy running her Bob’s Take-N-Bake shop located in the Roseburg Square in Modesto. “It was just consuming so much of my time and right now I have so much going on in my life. I just know that this is the best decision all around.”
After some negotiation, both Pometta and Wiggs agreed on keeping everything in the family – the name, the proprietary recipes and even the original Take-N-Bake sign hanging in the Ceres shop.
Bob Wiggs opened the original Ceres location on the corner of Fowler and Mitchell roads with his late wife Linda. In 1987, they opened the second location in Modesto. They moved the second store to Tully Road for a brief stint, but moved back to Roseburg Square in 1999. During that time, Bob moved the Ceres store to the Richland Shopping Center and a third location opened up on Coffee Road in Modesto. The Coffee Road store operated from 1985 to 1999. On August 1, 2013, Julie took over the Ceres operation for her dad and in 2017 acquired the Modesto shop so her dad could retire.
Owning Bob’s has been a great experience for the Wiggs family as Julie notes they’ve had many long-time, repeat customers supporting both locations.
“I’ve seen kids grow up and now they’re coming in to pick up pizzas with their kids. I’m just really happy that Bob’s will still run as a Bob’s Take-N-Bake because we have so much support from Ceres and Hughson customers.”
Keeping the Ceres staple open is also very important to Lacey Pometta, 25, of Turlock. “I wanted to keep it in the family,” she said. Pometta worked for Julie at the Ceres location from May 2014 through January 2017, while attending Stanislaus State University and majoring in sociology. Most recently she worked as the shelter director at Turlock Gospel Mission until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
As a single mom of an 8-month-old, Pometta wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do – that is until her mom shared the social media post announcing the sale of the business. Right away Pometta and her parents structured a plan for her to buy the business. Wiggs has agreed to consult with Pometta for several months until Pometta is ready to go it alone but there is still much more work ahead.
“COVID really took a hit on us,” said Wiggs. “It had nothing to do with customer support, but more with trying to keep the Ceres store staffed. Although the phone was constantly ringing for orders, I had to limit the hours because I didn’t have a manager here and I couldn’t be in both places at once.”
But Pometta’s already working on that problem. Now as the owner, she’s resuming the seven-days-a-week schedule because she will be there to manage the store. Since Monday the store will operate from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
She’s also making plans to update the menu and looking to add deli items, more meal deals and online ordering in the near future.
Pometta is now selling “pizza party packs” which include an eight-inch dough, cheese sauce and a choice of up to four toppings for $8.99. The option is a great way to show kids how to make a pizza of their own at home.
“I also want to add more gluten-free options like a cauliflower crust and baked goods for dessert,” said Pometta. Both she and Wiggs have agreed to collaborate on future recipes and additions or changes to the business for branding purposes.
“I think she’s going to do well,” said Wiggs of her second-cousin. “She has a great support system, she’s very teachable and I won’t let her fail. She’s going to be fine.”
Bob’s Take-N-Bake Ceres is located in the Richland Shopping Center, 2531 E. Whitmore Avenue, Suite S and may be reached at 538-6456.