La Mesa dessert shop flourishes through COVID-19 pandemic

Extraordinary Banana Pudding
Posted at 12:28 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 00:00:54-04

LA MESA, Calif. (KGTV) - A La Mesa dessert shop is beating the odds, flourishing through the pandemic.

Toran Grays opened Extraordinary Banana Pudding March 14th, the day after the President declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus.

Grays was set up for success from the get go, with prepackaged desserts available for take out, and partnering with Door Dash so he could be COVID compliant.

"I didn’t know COVID was going to hit so fast, but I did have belief in my product, so I said you know what I’m going to give it a try, you gotta try something at some point in your life if you want to do something great," Grays said.

He tried starting up at least two other businesses before Extraordinary Banana Pudding,"I started a clothing company, an online shipping company, none of it worked before."

Grays was determined. He grew up in Webster and Imperial Beach, and as a kid his grandmother came to visit, "my grandmother came down here from Mississippi, she made [banana pudding] for a bunch of our family members and I fell in love with it instantly!"

Grays said it was his great-grandmother's recipe that's been handed down generations. After his grandmother passed away he realized he could keep their legacy alive.

He struggled at first getting the permits for the business, but once the doors opened and customers tasted his creations, they were sold.

He expanded from the traditional banana pudding flavor to everything from cheesecake to pistachio.

Thursday a couple drove all the way down from Oceanside for the pudding that's catching fire on social media.

Grays said a family came all the way from Texas and vowed to come back every summer until he could open up a location closer to home.

Grays' business has been so successful, he's opening another shop in Las Vegas in August, headed by his brother.

I guess you could say the proof was in the pudding.

"It’s been a blessing the community has been really really supportive and I couldn’t imagine this, I really couldn’t," he said getting emotional.

Success holds a deep meaning for him and his family and he wants to encourage others to chase their dreams, "you gotta go out and get what you want, you gotta try out here because look, I did it in the middle of COVID so can you."

A feat even more impressive after looking at the statistics. Only 5.5% of San Diego County's population is Black, according to the US Census. Only 36% of businesses in San Diego County are owned by minorities.