OAKLAND, CA — After 12 years of wholesale, farmers’ markets and online sales, Berkeley, CA-based Starter Bakery has expanded into retail with the bakery’s first flagship store.
After a two-year building process, the bakery opened its doors on March 5 in Oakland’s Rockridge district.
“I always wanted to create a space to welcome people in and to highlight our baked goods,” said Brian Wood, founding baker and CEO of Starter Bakery. “The communal aspect of our own bakery cafe is gratifying, and we can focus on a high touch experience for our guests.”
Launching with a wide variety of new pastries and re-worked favorites, the bakery has gained popularity for its kouign-amann, but has also created other unique sweets such as the Cardamom Pistachio Twist. The dough is laminated in cardamom butter made with apricots and oranges to create a vibrant flavor.
“I wanted to create something that was different than a cinnamon roll and still as captivating,” Wood said about the twist. “Our aim was to balance the butteriness of the croissant, the fruity acidity of the dried apricots, the mellow sweetness and texture of pistachios all with cardamom. “
With the opening of his first retail store, Wood has high hopes of flavor expansion, product development and other ideas to further growth.
“The opening of the retail store was a first phase, and as we continue, the flavors and products will expand,” he said.
When crafting pastries at a wholesale level, Wood tries to find a balance between experimentation and remaining cost effective.
“Opening a new direct-to-consumer shop allows us to be a lot more creative, spend more on ingredients, as our markup is only once, like with our farmers market’s spots,” Wood said. “The chocolate we now use for our chocolate croissant and chocolate babka is single-origin Colombian dark chocolate and there is a third more of it in the chocolate croissant for example.”
After a month of business, Starter is beginning to settle into the Rockridge community.
“Having a retail store in the heart of a vibrant neighborhood has been incredibly fulfilling,” Wood said. “We already have regulars who come in daily for their new favorites. The community is really happy to have fresh baked breads and pastries so accessible.”