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Guest commentary: Many thanks to the community for helping business rebuild

Gloria Serna and Amanda Morrow stand at the temporary location of their Flower Pot Cafe and Bakery at The Lot in La Jolla.
Co-owners Gloria Serna and Amanda Morrow stand at the temporary pop-up location of their Flower Pot Cafe and Bakery at The Lot on Fay Avenue in La Jolla.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Hi, I’m Amanda, co-owner of the good old, new old cafe and bakery here in town — you know, the one that used to be near the corner of Girard Avenue and Pearl Street for about 50 years. Many referred to us as a La Jolla “institution.” We went by the name Pannikin when we still had the lease of the name and the space. Ahhh, those were great days. Sigh.

Well, as one door closes, another one opens, they say. (Make sure you have all the people, good energy, trinkets and knickknacks with you first!)

It’s the end of Pannikin as La Jollans have known it for decades, as the venerable cafe ended its stay at 7467 Girard Ave. on April 24.

We have been there for our community and with our community. Lucky for me, it meant something to you. You were there for us. You showed up. You raised money for us. (Thank you, James Rudolph, and the entire GoFundMe!) You gave us a temporary home. (Thank you, The Lot!) You showed up to donate your time. You gave us counsel. You donated your art. You found us a new home. (Thank you, David Schmidt!) You asked to come work with us at the new spot. You followed us to our temporary spot, even though we can only operate at less than half of our ability. Every day, my wife, Gloria, and I wake up and you give us a reason to keep going, to find a way to rebuild, to somehow make it work. Thank you.

Now we are called The Flower Pot Cafe and Bakery and Three Legs Coffee Roasters. We are able to rebuild for the many reasons listed above. But even with all of this support, Gloria and I found ourselves still in dire need of significant financial resources to get through to the new era of this cafe and make it to opening day, hopefully without a mountain of debt to climb out from under. We had no idea how we were going to come up with the rest of the construction capital.

It was nothing short of magical that we were blessed to meet Ace Rogers and his adorable three-legged dog Aspen. Ace has been our “Hail Mary,” our “11th hour.” It is something I find difficult to be comfortable with. His giving nature overwhelms, as he does it so effortlessly, and we see so few with his level of wealth give as generously as he does.

We wondered how we could give back. We wanted to create a public piece about his kindness and generosity, to share our gratitude, to pay it forward and to inspire more great acts like his. We had a feeling that many people had no idea what he was doing for this town, for animals, for our community — and on a grand scale.

Aspen is our mascot for the roasting company, another small way we could say thank you.

Ace Rogers lives in La Jolla and is a philanthropic entrepreneur and founder and CEO of several multimillion-dollar businesses, including the Doctor Multimedia digital marketing company.

He has a passion for adopting “handi-capable” dogs, as he likes to call them. His pack of six canines includes two three-legged dogs, another with a metal plate in his jaw, one that was feral, and a stray Lab mix that simply showed up at his door 10 years ago.

He donates millions of dollars to animal charities around the world each year, including taking care of the only veterinary hospital in northern Uganda through his own “Aspen’s Fund.”

Ace believes that the “mom and pop” shops make a community strong and vibrant, and he gives generously to keep us afloat and thriving.

We are just so grateful to have such an incredible Village and wanted this article to be a reminder to all of us that kindness and generosity toward one another matter so much.

Cheers to spreading joy and love and to making our community better and better each day by taking care of one another.

Amanda Morrow is co-owner of The Flower Pot Cafe and Bakery, which plans a soft opening soon at 7530 Fay Ave. in La Jolla and a grand opening Saturday, Oct. 1.