<B>ESTHER'S GERMAN BAKERY OPENS (TWICE) ... </I></B>Two is Esther Nio's new lucky number. That's the number of locations she and her husband, Robert, will have for their first-ever retail bakery. After four long years of searching out sites for Esther's German Bakery, the couple has finally found not one but two. The first opened last Tuesday, April 15, at 987 San Antonio Road in Los Altos, next to Armadillo Willy's BBQ. The second will open this summer at the San Antonio Center in the former location of Taco Del Mar. That's the prime corner spot facing the parking lot between Trader Joe's and Sears. Nio, a mother of four young boys, admits she is overwhelmed. "But after four years, you grab what you get," she said. Nio emphasized the differences between the two bakeries. "The Los Altos one is more in the style of a European cafe. We have nine tables and a patio in the back," she said. Hoping to attract moms with young kids, she added, "We also have a 'kids corner.' It has a chalkboard, a reading area and Legos." When the second Esther's German Bakery opens, "you'll find that this is more a bakery than a cafe. You buy; you leave," Nio said. Esther's German Bakery has been a fixture for years in Peninsula grocery stores, such as JJ&F, the Milk Pail and Dittmer's Gourmet Meats. But opening the retail shops has been surprisingly difficult. The Nios had several false starts. They looked at the old Caffe Verona site on Hamilton Avenue, which still sits vacant. They looked at the old One-Hour Photo site (next to Subway Sandwich Shop) on Middlefield Road in Midtown, which still sits vacant. They also looked in Charleston Center at the former site of the liquor store near Piazza's market, which is opening soon as Mountain Mike's Pizza. "I thought it just wasn't going to happen, and then all of a sudden, boom, two stores at once," Esther said. She calls the stores her 'children.' "I need to spend a lot of time with them, nurture them and watch them as they become independent. I just didn't know I'd be having twins," she said.
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posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008, 12:00 AM