Home News Starter Bakery’s New Retail Outlet Flourishing in Oakland’s Rockridge

Starter Bakery’s New Retail Outlet Flourishing in Oakland’s Rockridge

by Celia

Indulging in delectable pastries crafted by Brian Wood, the founder, owner, and executive pastry chef of Starter Bakery in Oakland’s vibrant Rockridge district, it’s hard to believe it all began with scoops of Jiffy pancake mix from a metal canister.

From the rich and buttery kouign-amann to the tangy passion fruit-glazed clementines, each bite heralds the arrival of spring. The menu boasts an array of tantalizing treats, including the irresistibly decadent Chocolate Decadence flourless cake and slices of crusty sourdough miche and batard.

But amidst these waistband-expanding temptations lies a sweet nostalgia for Wood, who fondly recalls his early days of pancake-making with his grandfather. “It was a special moment for me,” he reminisces.

Wood’s journey into the world of baking traces back to his childhood in Rhode Island, where snow days meant baking cookies with his sister. His passion for food only grew, leading him to a summer camp job as a cook, where he honed his skills under the tutelage of a seasoned chef.

Despite initially considering a career in teaching, Wood ultimately pursued his culinary ambitions, attending a community college in Seattle and eventually founding Starter Bakery as a wholesale and pop-up operation in 2010. By 2018, the bakery had expanded to a 13,000-square-foot facility in West Berkeley, supplying pastries to various establishments across the Bay Area.

In 2023, Wood realized his dream of opening Starter Bakery’s first brick-and-mortar shop and café in Rockridge. Involved in every aspect of the store’s design and operation, Wood reflects on the challenges of transitioning from wholesale to retail.

“Building out the menu was tricky,” he explains. “But when we took down the window coverings to invite the public in… all eyes were on us.”

Collaborating with architect Hallie Chen of Caha Design, Wood meticulously crafted the 2,000-square-foot café, focusing on both aesthetics and functionality. The result is a space that reflects Wood’s vision and commitment to quality.

Beyond serving delectable pastries, Starter Bakery prioritizes the safety and well-being of its employees. From injury-prevention training to ergonomic equipment, Wood ensures a supportive work environment where employees can thrive.

Looking ahead, Wood plans to expand Starter Bakery’s offerings, including a curated selection of sustainably-produced wine and locally-crafted beer. With ambitions to open additional stores, Wood remains committed to delivering exceptional pastries and fostering a sense of community in the Bay Area.

“As we continue to grow, our focus remains on quality and innovation,” Wood concludes. “Whether it’s here in the Bay Area or beyond, our goal is to delight customers with every bite.”

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