Before everyone started making bread at home, San Franciscans were hitting up Tartine on Alabama Street. The bread and pastry bakery is hard to miss, with eye-catching design and gorgeous lighting. But it wasn’t always so glamorous and well-branded. In fact, the business had the humblest of beginnings. It started as a simple Berkeley farmer’s market stall.
In 2002, a chance encounter with a retiring baker allowed founders Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt to move into the brick-and-mortar corner shop of their dreams.
Now, 20 years later, the company has 12 locations – 5 in San Francisco, CA, 3 in Los Angeles, and 4 in Seoul, South Korea.
The bakers at the original Bay Area Tartine locations are still firing up ovens in the early mornings, but serving loyal customers in the midst of a pandemic is a challenge. The remaining employees are struggling to work with new technology to keep the business safe and profitable. I spoke to Jillian Ressler, the Vice President of Brand for Tartine, to see how the team is working through this transition.
“We have had to temporarily close some of our locations, lay off team members in all locations, change our operating procedures, and adjust our menus. We are struggling each day to adjust to the changing environment. We are working to keep our teams employed, but also safe, to continue to support our farmers and vendors, and to keep our communities fed.”
Using third party delivery apps, Tartine regulars are still able to get the menu items that made the bakery famous: the Country Loaf and Morning Bun. But customers that come to the bakery for pickup might get a little something extra.
“Sometimes we also throw in some freshly made pasta to finish cooking at home or even a roll of toilet paper.”
Tartine also offers something for the home baker—recipe books! But if you want to get your hands on the bakers’ secrets, you’ll have to act fast.
“Our original Tartine Bread book has been selling out everywhere. Our Tartine Bread Book 3 is still available though and has all of our amazing classic bread recipes with so much more.”
Besides treating yourself to pastries and warm, fresh bread, you can also support the bakery’s entire supply chain. Liz started a program to support local farmers and vendors and keep teams stocked with amazing products – you can donate here.
Tartine is open for pickup and delivery every day from 8 am-5 pm. You can order directly from their website.