Home News Symbolic dollar finds new steward at Oakland’s Grand Bakery

Symbolic dollar finds new steward at Oakland’s Grand Bakery

by Celia

In a symbolic passing of the torch, Oakland’s renowned Grand Bakery has transitioned ownership for the modest sum of $1. The historic bakery, cherished as the Bay Area’s oldest kosher establishment, now rests in the capable hands of local entrepreneur Bear Silber, who emerged victorious amidst a pool of 2550 applicants vying for the prestigious opportunity.

The transaction, finalized on February 19th between Silber and former owner Sam Tobis, encapsulated the essence of legacy and tradition. Silber, an Oakland native, expressed his reverence for the bakery’s heritage, remarking, “The recipes, the routes, the customers, the IP, all of that was a full dollar.”

Operating out of a kitchen situated above the Food Mill building on MacArthur Boulevard, Grand Bakery’s wholesale business has long been a cornerstone of Oakland’s culinary landscape. Tobis, also the proprietor of Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen in Berkeley, cited the challenge of managing multiple ventures as the impetus behind the sale, initiating the search for a worthy successor in October.

Prospective buyers were tasked with crafting essays outlining their personal backgrounds, qualifications, and aspirations for the bakery. Silber’s narrative resonated deeply with Tobis, who lauded his blend of operational acumen and heartfelt dedication. Silber’s familial connection to the bakery trade, dating back to the early 1900s when his great grandparents established the esteemed “Silber’s” Jewish bakery chain in Baltimore, underscored his intrinsic understanding of the industry.

Reflecting on his lineage, Silber shared, “My grandfather and seven siblings were raised above the bakery…it grew to at least 36 locations in the Baltimore area.” Drawing inspiration from his ancestry, Silber has embarked on a mission to honor the bakery’s legacy while infusing it with fresh vitality.

As the torchbearer of Grand Bakery’s rich heritage, Silber envisions an evolution that embraces tradition while embracing innovation. “Right now, we’re kosher, and I’d like to add dairy at one point in a new facility,” he disclosed, hinting at plans to diversify the bakery’s offerings with beloved family recipes and artisanal creations.

Silber’s serendipitous encounter with Tobis in 2021, during which he shared his vision of resurrecting his family’s baking legacy, culminated in this momentous transition of ownership. While the symbolic exchange of a dollar sealed the deal, Silber’s commitment to preserving Grand Bakery’s legacy extends far beyond monetary transactions.

Indeed, as Silber embarks on this new chapter, he remains steadfast in his dedication to honoring the past while innovating for the future. The $1 agreement, symbolic though it may be, represents a profound commitment to stewarding a cherished institution into the next era of excellence.

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