Distinguished Los Angeles bakery abruptly closes two areas
On Monday, the 34-year-old La Brea Bakery abruptly announced the closure of both its flagship Los Angeles store as well as its Downtown Disney District cafe in Anaheim.
As one of the largest sellers of fresh bread in the country, La Brea is focusing its efforts on its retail business instead.
“It’s really a very simple decision, and the answer is our business strategy,” La Brea Bakery chief commercial officer Christine Prociv told SFGATE. “… We are in the business of creating delicious artisan breads and other baked goods and not the restaurant business.”
La Brea is owned by parent company Aspire Bakeries, which also owns Otis Spunkmeyer and Oakrun Farm Bakery. La Brea bread is already available for sale at many grocery stores, including at Andronico’s Community Markets in San Francisco and at Safeway stores in Berkeley, but the bakery plans to expand its distribution.
While customers will still be able to find La Brea bread at grocery stores, many expressed dismay at the news on social media.
“It’s really sad from our perspective,” Prociv said. “We run a business but it’s also our brand and it’s our heritage, and it’s our history. And these cafes have been around for a long time. They’re really our flagship, so it’s unfortunate and it was really a difficult business decision for us.”
But, she added, “Just like for everyone else, being in the restaurant business is totally a challenge.”
Over La Brea’s 34 years, it has had a total of 18 different licensed locations. After Monday’s closures, only La Brea’s franchised kiosks at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, New York’s JFK Airport and Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center remain.
La Brea founders Nancy Silverton (a pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the time) and Mark Peel opened their first La Brea location in Los Angeles in 1989. While Acme Bakery had already kicked off a sourdough bread revolution in the Bay Area in 1983, La Brea is often credited with bringing good soil to Southern California. A La Brea baguette even won a blind taste test of sourdough breads by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1997. Today, La Brea still uses its original sourdough starter.
In 2001, La Brea opened its Downtown Disney location, one of the very first businesses to open at the outdoor shopping mall just outside the theme park. Earl of Sandwich will temporarily move into the La Brea space as it waits for its permanent location in the area to be constructed. Then, the La Brea site is slated to be remodeled into a new Porto’s Bakery.
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