After five years of planning, Hayes Valley Bakeworks finally opens tomorrow.
We stopped by last night and got the opportunity to speak with some people who have been working on this project since its inception.
What did we learn? This isn't your ordinary bakery, folks.
With a mission of being "a human service agency dedicated to providing the tools and resources that promote independence, equality and personal satisfaction... in partnership with people with disabilities," Hayes Valley Bakeworks is the newest service out of this community program that helps the disabled, homeless and at-risk.
As we learned from Kristy Feck, Vice President of Toolworks, the idea for this space went through several iterations before they decided on a bakery.
"We worked with the Berkeley Office of Business and looked at the size of the space and what wasn't already in the neighborhood" explained Kristy. "Then we looked at what would target the most workforce... how can we help those trying to transition from being homeless to having a job."
The idea they first latched on to was a pet grooming service. But after a few places opened up in the neighborhood and they received feedback from residents and constituents of Western Addition that it wasn't a core service for them, they went back to the drawing board.
Once they decided that a bakery was the way they wanted to go, they ran into a few problems. Okay, a lot of problems.
First it took awhile for the building to be constructed. Once the place was finally turned over to them last summer, the zoning had changed and suddenly a bakery wasn't allowed to be in the space. This all happened as the Redevelopment office closed down so it was hard to navigate where they should go to get help.
After they worked through their zoning issues and restaurant classification problems, PG&E threw them a final wrench.
But everything is now up and running and they're enjoying a "demo day" today and officially opening tomorrow.
Mark Bailey will be the Manager for Hayes Valley Bakeworks and he recently moved here from New York to start this initiative.
"I'm originally from New York and was doing something similar to this at a non-profit" said Mark. "I saw they posted something and chatted back and forth with Toolworks before I came out and interviewed and now I'm glad to be here."
Kristy added, "We're so lucky having someone from a non-profit world with his skill levels and knowledge of corporate environments."
When we asked how they decided on this type of food service, Kristy shared that they did a lot of research on what Hayes Valley did and didn't have (at the time).
"We worked with some consultants and local chefs and dumped all our half-baked ideas and various recipes on Alyssa and she tightened it all up and made it perfect."
She added that one of things that drew them to Alyssa was that she worked at the Culinary Institute and would be used to teaching.
"We're starting with 8-9 employees and half of them come from job placement at Toolworks" explained Kristy. "Once we're up and running, we hope to have about 20 people who are going through our ten-week training program."
Being located in Hayes Valley seems to be working out great for everyone involved.
Mark said, "I just moved here and I love the neighborhood. I spend most of my time in the area and it's gorgeous and there's always something to do."
Kristy had many praises to give to the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association (HVNA).
"Working with the HVNA has been great. They're so committed to helping us economically succeed and asking kind questions. I feel like the business we're opening fits in with the culture of the neighborhood."
While Mark is looking forward to getting to a point of being so successful that restaurants call to hire their trained staff, Kristy is already thinking about a second Bakeworks.
Hayes Valley Bakeworks opens on Thursday. Hours will be M-F (7am-7pm) and Sat (8am-3pm). You can check out their menu here and look forward to a beer and wine license in the near future.
Until then, the first question to ask yourself is: Maple Bacon Cinnamon Roll or Peanut Butter Glazed Cardamom Roll?
We'll take both. See you in line on Thursday.