La Brea Bakery locations in Los Angeles and Downtown Disney District in Anaheim closed permanently this morning, exiting the restaurant space to focus on growing the bakery business through retail grocery and foodservice locations.
A sad day for Angelenos who walked through the original artisan bakery doors in Campanile Restaurant on La Brea, originally opened by L.A. chefs Nancy Silverton and then husband Mark Peel in 1989.
“People ask me what it was like, starting a business like Campanile and La Brea Bakery with small children and a newborn soon after and a husband,” Silverton told L.A. Weekly at the time of the famed bakery’s 30th anniversary. “You just do it because you are immersed in it and don’t stop overthinking it. I don’t know how I did it, but I know I did because I have living proof of it.”
La Brea Bakery was an afterthought to supply bread for the restaurant, which in turn subsidized the bakery. So Silverton opened a bakery cafe, which was a unique concept in L.A. at the time. The idea of having a bakery and a place to eat on the same premises was not what she was aiming to do — it just happened that way. Silverton ended up paving the way for Panera Bread and others to pop up all over the country years later and the rest is whole-grain history. The bake shop and cafe later moved across the street and in 2001, Silverton sold the bakery empire for $90 million.
“The restaurant industry has always been challenging, and the current environment is more difficult than ever,” Christine Prociv, La Brea Bakery Chief Commercial Officer of Retail told L.A. Weekly in a statement. “Twenty-five percent of independent restaurants have closed during and post COVID amidst ongoing labor and supply chain issues, along with inflation. Over the course of the last 34 years, La Brea Bakery has managed 18 licensed Café locations and two company-owned Cafés across the country. We now have three licensed locations, enabling us to focus on our business strategy of growing La Brea Bakery in grocery and foodservice, and increasing distribution of our delicious artisan breads in these segments so even more people can enjoy them.”
Employees at the Los Angeles and Downtown Disney Café locations were informed of the closures on January 9th, 2023, while the Aspire Bakeries Human Resources team began working directly with employees that are impacted by the closures to ease the transition. The franchised La Brea Bakery kiosks in the Reno International Airport in Nevada and JFK Airport in New York will remain open.
“When I opened La Brea Bakery, I wanted to teach myself how to bake a loaf of bread, and then I became passionate about it, ” Silverton told us in 2019. “When we opened, I mixed, I shaped, I baked and even sold at the very beginning. As we got busier and made more bread and the actual baking increased, I had to give over some of those responsibilities to other people, and I hated it. I just wanted to do it all myself.”
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