Last days!

June 18th, 2013 by breadworkshop

In 1989, when I first started the Bread Workshop with John Simmet, I had no idea what lay in store for us. We started off as a wholesale bakery that would work collaboratively with the chefs of the bay area to develop breads for their stores. There have been many successes and many mistakes in the last 24 years, but it has always been a challenge. As a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week business, there was no end of activity, socialization, creativity, problem solving and, yes, stress. Many highlights have been had, including selling bread to chefs who I apprenticed with and studied under, meeting new and innovative chefs and opening a restaurant of my own. The people who have worked here have gone on and done many things, from opening their own bakeries and restaurants, to mediating, playing music, working at nonprofits, and getting graduate degrees from many highly thought of schools. Those who helped start the Workshop as young adults are now in their 40’s. The Atkin’s diet hit us hard around 2000, and John decided to step out. He is still a good friend and the owner of a tennis shop on Solano Ave. in Berkeley, “Plaza Tennis” (not a paid endorsement, despite his occasional donation of shoes to the cause), as well as a worthy salmon hunter.
In the beginning, the Bread Workshop was about Bread with a sustainable bend. We started composting with the City of Berkeley in 1994, and were in/among? the first 10 companies to do so. In 2004, it became about sustainability. We studied every ingredient that came into the shop. We would not let High Fructose Corn Syrup or trans-fats in the door, knowingly (it occasionally snuck in, but when discovered was abruptly shown out the door). We bought ‘to go’ containers made of rice or sugar cane stalks, utensils made of potato (a technology that I am now a bit dubious about) and were dedicated to help our vendors understand what is truly sustainable. Most of them saw the light and grew accordingly, some grew too big for us to order from.
In the past, we have served a president, a prince, decedents, many CEOs of companies big and small, amazing minds, both recognized in the academic world as well as Berkeley cafe philosophers, politicians galore, (with a special shout out to Nancy Skinner, who shared an office and has been a long term supporter, as well as a rare example of a politician that I trust even after getting to know her). Unfortunately, all streaks come to an end. Ours is coming to an end on June 30, 2013. I will try to keep this web page up, sans menus. Maybe I will actually have the time to update it occasionally with sustainable news and thoughts. I intend to always keep my head in the sustainable game, even if my hands aren’t.
The reasons for a business’s demise are always complicated, so I will not insult your intelligence by trying to encapsulate it with a blurb! If you want to know more, or just want to go out for some coffee, you can always email me at Bill@theBreadworkshop.com. I will hold this email as a symbol from the 23 years as owner.
I also would like to thank all those who have worked with me in this business, a few have been with me for 20 years, or close to it. To them I would like to give a heartfelt thanks, there is nothing on earth that can repay my gratitude to them. Lourdes, Eduardo, Ishmael, Delia – you are the best and will always be part of my soul. There is another handful that have been with me for almost ten years. I am also greatly indebted to their service, help, and dedication. And Carlos, though I am not a man of prayer, for you I will make an exception!
To my guests, thank you all for your support and dedication through the years! I have met many amazing people, I have truly felt the love that people have had for us, and am sorry to leave this community. My thoughts of sustainability have always had the local community in mind.
Our last cafe day will be June 30, 2013.
May your hunger always be satiated by worthy cooks!

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New Menu

June 21st, 2012 by breadworkshop

Hi Folks,

I really want to thank the community for being understanding through all of our changes. We are now a bit more settled and have introduced a small, but meaningful menu. It includes a house chili that is either made vegan, with braised tofu, or traditional, with organic grass fed Prather ranch beef.  We also have a version of our all time best seller, the Hobbes Turkey sandwich. As always we have house made chicken soup and  a vegan soup option as well.  The whole menu will soon be available on our menu page.

New to our menu is a BLT featuring Hobb’s bacon,  a grab and go tuna salad and a sloppy sandwich of the week. This week (3rd week of June) we have a sloppy chicken chocolate Mole sandwich.

On top of all this we also are running specials constantly.  This weekend you could try our vegan green chili potato stew, made with organic fingerling potatoes, and thickened with roasted pumpkin seeds.  A version of this stew is available  with slow roasted Niman pork also.  These specials will have limited availability, and with any luck (well more to the point with any free time) will be updated on our Facebook page.

Once again I would like to thank you all for being patient in our transitional times.

Final thought, don’t forget to think about our catering, box lunches and Lasagna go great with pot lucks and picnics!

Thanks

Bill

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May 15th, 2012 by breadworkshop

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra

Hi Bread Workshop fans,
Many have come in excited by the new grab and go salads, soups and our the limited sandwich menu prepared by our wonderful counter crew.  As I said in the last posting, we have discontinued the sandwich and hot food menu that has been part of our life for 8 years.  We are taking a bit of time to regroup and figure out the next steps.Lourdes, who’s been working for us for 20 years, is helping us make an assortment of salads, sandwiches and soups.  Meanwhile Sophie and Katherine have been expanding their pastry range with some savory items like quiche and savory bread pudding.  We will continue to make more grab and go items like baked green chile chicken empanadas.   We are dedicated to make  food that comes from our hearts, using our  training and skill. This means that quality, not quantity is going to be our focus.
Using the best freshest ingredients we can will allow us to make a variety foods from many cultures and backgrounds. We will also to create healthy nutritious items for many diets, though we hope they will be tasty enough for everybody.
As with all transitions, this may take a little time to perfect.  I assure you our focus will be on the food at all times.  I will keep posting our progress as we go, introducing new products. For example, our pastry department, Sophie and Katherine, have just introduced gluten free coconut macaroons. To track of all this we will not only post these on our website but on our Facebook page or just come in and see what we are up to.

Thank you for your dedication and patience.

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With a heavy heart we are discontinuing lunch and dinner as we know it

April 27th, 2012 by breadworkshop

For the past 8 years we have been providing moderately priced food based on mainly sustainable products.  During this time we have learned a lot, but more importantly we have shared this knowledge with our customers as well as our vendors. We believe that, though small, we have had a voice in the sustainable movement. We’ve included in this sustainable packaging as well, constantly helping our vendors find and distribute sustainable products.  We have appreciated all the support that you have given our efforts.
It is with heavy heart that I must declare our attempts to provide this at an end.  Though we are going to continue selling coffee, bread, pastry, drinks and catering, we must end our hot food production due to rising food and packaging cost’s and a general change in market forces.  We may still have some lunch items available, but for the moment they are going to be limited to soups, salads and a few deli style items.  This change, like all changes, will hopefully enable us to become more sustainable as a business and, with any luck after a bit of soul searching, will enable us to find a new voice in the land of sustainability. In other words, we may come back with a more viable concept later, but for now we need to lick our wounds and regroup. So as of May 1rst we are going to discontinue our lunch, dinner and brunch menu. As I said before we are still going to continue run our café with coffee, bread, drinks, soups and some salads, and will explore other possibilities in the future as well.

Thanks you for your continued support and patronage!

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Diestel Turkey Burgers have arrived

October 26th, 2010 by breadworkshop

The sad news is that our buffalo burger has left our menu due to increased popularity of buffalo (weird reason, huh? see why below). The good news is that we are now getting some delicious ground turkey from Diestel Ranch seasoned with organic sage, sauteed onions and garlic. This is now available on any of our popular burger combination’s.

This change represents one of the struggles which we are constantly looking at, that is to provide reasonably priced sustainable foods.  The popularity of buffalo in supermarkets, which fetches better prices for the supplier than restaurants, increased our price for buffalo to such an extent that we could no longer afford to sell it at our goal of sustainable products for under $10 (our regular menu goal, though some daily specials are higher). I don’t blame the supplier and am glad that buffalo is getting so popular,  but the best thing is that it led us to another delicious alternative.

For all those buffalo (OK, it’s really North American bison) fans it is still a great meat to eat, environmentally as well as for health concerns! But we, at The Bread Workshop, are trying to focus on sustainability in the wallet as well as all other forms of sustainability.

Thanks

William

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Re-opened and improved!

July 8th, 2010 by breadworkshop

These past five days have been a whirlwind of work. We looked at all the recipe’s of our wholesale and sandwich bread in minute details. Carefully playing with better fermentation times we have made the bread more flavorful with much better textures and crusts. Though we changed little of the recipe’s themselves, the techniques are going to be subtly changed over the next few weeks. Our sourdough breads are the best examples of our improved fermentation times.

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Cafe closed for the Holiday

June 30th, 2010 by breadworkshop

Our Cafe is going to be closed from July 3rd to July 7 for cleaning, maintenance and improvements.

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