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Aug 3, 2009 04:18 PM

Bread Garden (Berkeley) to close by year's end?

At least that's what the Oakland Tribune is reporting (

"The Bread Garden's 30-year lease expires next year. Morris, 62, has an option to renew, but because of declining business, this isn't his intention at the moment.

The problem is competition. When Morris founded the Bread Garden 36 years ago, there were three bakeries within a two-mile distance of his; now there are nine, with a 10th on the way. He explains it best with a baking metaphor.

"The size of the pie has stayed the same; there's as many customers in the area as there ever was," he said. "But the number of slices being
taken out of it has increased, so that the Bread Garden's slice of the pie has been getting progressively smaller year by year."

Thus the bakery's business has been declining for 15 years, but never more precipitously than now, with fewer customers and its lowest sales in 30 years.

If business doesn't improve the last half of this year, Morris will inform the landlord he's not renewing, then sell his house and move out of Berkeley to a spot on or near the Marin coast, where he'll relocate the Bread Garden.

He ends his statement with this bread-or-bust plea: "Help us get more customers in the door. Ask your friends and neighbors to shop here. Buy your pastries here rather than at Peet's, and your bread here rather than at a supermarket.""

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  1. Always better to toot your own horn rather than go negative on someone else's. After all, most of us have a routine--go to the Bread Garden to get a roll/bread and then next door to Peet's for a coffee. Given the mediocre quality of Peet's pastries (OK for me to complain), it's hard to believe that Peet's proximity is anything but good for the Bread Garden. For the record, the Bread Garden is a fine bakery, and my favorites include: raisin pumpernickel bread, 19th century baguette, pecan roll--and my kids and husband adore the little peanut butter patty covered in chocolate.

    1. This would be so sad. They do breads that no one else makes. For all the good bakeries out there, they are pretty much carbon copies of each other.

      However ... while customers can do their part to get the word out, lots of these little bakeries survive because they do wholesale business. I believe I saw Bread Garden at Berkeley Bowl recently, but they need to do more things like that or sell at farmers markets for name recognition.

      While I like Bread Garden quite a lot, it is an old-style bakery. Customers have a long time relationship with it. I don't know how easy it would be for a bakery like that to start up on the Marin Coast.

      1. Are they closed? Their website isn't working, at least not now.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Mick Ruthven

          Still open and will be at that location at least until Summer 2010.

          I asked when I recently went to pick up some sourdough bread which is some of the best in the Bay Area. At that time the website wasn't working and I asked about the status.

          The owner isn't going to make a decision until after the holidays. Even if he decides to move or close, the lease runs through early summer 2010 and he plans to be open at least thru the end of the lease.

          1. re: rworange

            I asked this morning about a potential close, and they told me that they extended their lease by one year, and have improved business by selling bread to the Claremont Hotel and selling at Star Market. Hopefully that will help the bottom line and they won't be looking at closing again in another year.

              1. re: lamlex

                Does anyone have an update about how the Bread Garden is doing these days? I try to pimp them out whenever locals ask me for bread recommendations (even before Nabolom these days) because I want them to stick around. Anyone know if they're still doing well?

                Bread Garden
                2912 Domingo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

          2. The owner says he's closing by the end of June and opening a bakery in Paso Robles. "When I opened the bakery in 1973 I was bakery #8 in Berkeley. The last time I counted there were 38 bakeries in Berkeley. The market isn’t any bigger than it was in 1973."


            4 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I hope they'll keep selling at Berkeley Bowl. I especially like their ready made pizza crusts and would miss them.

              1. re: TopoTail

                Probably no more at the Bowl. David told me some years ago that he uses a bicycle delivery service -- it's a straight shot downhill from the bakery to either location of the Bowl. I don't know if he currently uses bicycles.

                But it's an uphill ride from Paso Robles.

                1. re: Joel

                  Stopped in at the Bread Garden today because I remembered reading here that they might
                  close and found out that this was the last day. They had sold out all their bread and had
                  some cookies left, Kind of sad and hope they find a home somewhere else.

                  1. re: day_lilly

                    As noted above he's planning to open a bakery in Paso Robles.