By Pamela Dozois

Contributing Writer

The quaint, colorful and charming Solvang Bakery has been providing both locals and visitors with an array of authentic Danish baked goods for 38 years, since Susan Halme established it in 1981.

Halme’s daughter, Melissa Redell, is now the co-owner.

The family moved to Solvang from the Los Angeles area in 1976, when Redell was 6 years old. She and her siblings grew up in Ballard. 

“My husband, Paul, suggested that I open up a store in Solvang,” Halme said. “Melissa was 11 when I purchased an existing bakery called the Danish Mill Bakery, whose owners were leaving the valley, and renamed it The Solvang Bakery. 

“I had to quickly learn how to run a business. Melissa would help me out at the bakery after school. My other children, Maili, Matt and Morgan, all worked at the bakery at some point. Over the years we’ve occupied three different locations in Solvang.”

Halme learned how to make Danish baked goods from the bakers who worked at the Danish Mill Bakery, who were trained by Danish bakers. They still work for The Solvang Bakery, turning out an assortment of pastries, butter cookies, breads, and cakes for all occasions and a variety of other tasty treats.  

Solvang Bakery sells homemade, personalized gingerbread houses to customers around the world.
Photo contributed

“We have always made traditional Danish breads and pastries. We are a full range bakery. We do everything ourselves,” Halme explained.  “We bake our goods in Buellton because there isn’t enough room in this location to do it on site. I work in the production end of things and Melissa manages the office and the retail store. We are a great team.”

“My mother is the hardest working, most creative, generous person I know,” said Redell. “She is extremely imaginative and our cakes reflect her creativity – I like to think of it as edible art. … We specialize in unique custom cakes made artistically for those special occasions in a person’s life, cakes that you may only be able to find in big cities.” 

Redell left the Valley to attend UCLA, earning a teaching degree. She then married and has three children — Bear, who now attends UCLA; Brooke, who is studying at Pepperdine; and Bennett, who is a sophomore at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

 “I returned to the valley when Bear was a year old and partnered with my mother in the bakery in 1997,” said Redell.

“I love working with my mother. … We like the same things,” she said. 

“We love to give parties,” said Halme. “We love family. We think about what we would want for our family and translate that into products for our customers. We do weddings and special events, corporate and holiday affairs as well.”

The Halmes are deeply rooted in the community and want to keep Solvang a special place because they love living here.

“The holiday season is our busiest time of year as we make homemade, personalized, gingerbread houses that are sold all over the country and internationally,” said Halme. “We start in October and until Dec. 20, it’s a mad house. We work a minimum of 18-hour days baking, packaging, and shipping to our customers. Each year we say to ourselves, “I think this is the last year I want to do this, but when October rolls around the next year, we are excited to do it all over again.” 

“Our particular partnership works because we have trust and respect for each other and we back each other up,” said Redell.

“We encourage and support women to go into business for themselves. It is very rewarding,” Halme added.

The Solvang Bakery at 438 Alisal Road in Solvang is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Christmas Day. Summer hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information, call 805-688-4939 or 805-770-0089, email or visit