Luna Sourdough: A Sweet Addition to the Morongo Basin

By Katie Nartonis

Those lucky folks who have tried the savory and sweet bakery goods from Luna Sourdough in Yucca Valley’s Old Town will tell you their pain-au-chocolat is on par with those found in the very best bakeries of Paris. Yucca Valley has been without a bakery of its own for over twenty years, and Luna Sourdough is our collective reward for suffering without fresh loaves of sourdough, flaky pastries, sandwiches, scones, and other delicious treats.

Owners Julia and Ian were living and working in Los Angeles when they bought a getaway in the high desert in 2019. Their decision to buy a place here was based on a feeling it would be a great place to raise a family and even open a bakery someday – their dream. They moved out to the desert full-time in May of 2020. The couple treasures the desert quiet, the sunsets, and the beautiful people found here in our community.

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“We were feeling ready to settle down and start a family but couldn’t see doing it in Los Angeles or any of the neighboring areas.” – Julia

Originally from Sonoma, CA, the pair met in high school but didn’t become life partners until their early twenties. Ian moved to LA when he was 18 and Julie lived in San Francisco and Portland. Julia recalls, “We got together when we were both 22. We had a brief stint in Santa Cruz where I did some of my undergrad, but quickly moved back to L.A. He worked in restaurants and then catering. I worked in restaurants, retail, for photographers, fashion brands, and eventually my own consultancy.”

Julia was running a successful ecommerce and marketing business, and Ian was helping run an organic catering company in L.A. Then the pandemic hit, and the catering company went under, forcing the couple’s hand in a way that they are now grateful for.

In July of 2020, Ian found an ad on Craigslist for the Luna Sourdough location. It had been a record store and would require being redone inside, but they loved the bones and the location in Old Town. They signed the lease in September of 2020 and opened January 31st of 2022. The couple recalls that they initially thought they would be able to open winter of 2021. “We had no idea what we were in store for,” they shared. The build out of the building ended up costing four times what we thought it would and taking four times as long. They ended up refinancing their house twice and using credit cards to get through.

“It’s been quite the journey – there were so many moments we weren’t sure we were going to be able to get open. The community has been so incredible kind and supportive. Our landlords also helped us with some of the construction costs to the building – they were amazing throughout the process – very supportive and kind people.” – Julia

The couple’s beautiful daughter was born in the midst of all the chaos. She was only four months old when the doors to Luna opened (she just turned a year old a few months ago). “She’s growing up in the bakery and with our customers as this sweet extended family. It’s all been so much more than anything we could have hoped for,” says Julia. “It’s been incredibly positive. We have felt so fortunate to open our business in this town. Everyone has been so kind, gracious, and welcoming. It’s been the hardest and best time of our life – we are so grateful!”

Katie Nartonis runs JTAG (Joshua Tree Art Gallery) and is an art and design specialist, writer, curator and filmmaker who lives in Yucca Valley. Her passion is telling the stories of California artists and makers and is inspired by the creative community of the High Desert.

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