A new artisan bakery with a noble mission is coming to Alameda. Firebrand Artisan Breads of Oakland will be moving most of its production facilities to a renovated warehouse at Alameda Point in the coming months, bringing most of its 90 employees and hiring more.
Customers know this bakery by the taste of its gourmet baked goods and deli selections. Employees know this bakery by the taste of a life-changing opportunity for a good job. The company will employ up to 150 people striving to overcome employment barriers, such as previously being homeless and previously incarcerated.
Firebrand is a wholesale supplier to cafés, restaurants, and specialty grocery stores throughout the Bay Area, providing a high-quality line of traditional breads and pastries, baked fresh every day. They also operate a retail café at their flagship store on Broadway in Oakland.
The new 40,000-square-foot production facility will allow for a seven-fold increase in production. Outfitting the space with infrastructure is now underway.
“We are expecting production to come online in February or March of 2021, with retail a few months behind that,” said developer Joe Ernst of srmErnst Development Partners that owns the building. “The design of the retail at Building 9 will be flexible and allow for a full cafe if that is what the location will ultimately support.”
Funding for the $9.5 million expansion was helped along by a $500,000 working capital loan from San Francisco-based Roberts Enterprise Development Fund. It is the only venture philanthropy in America that invests exclusively in the growth and effectiveness of social enterprises, where the bottom line is social return on investment.
Located at 707 West Tower Avenue, across the street from the Bladium Sports Club, Building 9 underwent a $24 million renovation project after the city sold it to srmErnst for $5.5 million in 2017. The bakery lease means that the building will be fully occupied. Firebrand Artisan Breads will be sharing the building with another tenant, which moved into their specially designed half of the building in 2019.
“We hire from within our community to create a diverse and inclusive workplace,” states Firebrand’s website. “Do you have a gap in your resume? Are you reentering the workforce? If the answer is yes, we’d love to meet you!” Employees receive a full benefits package.
Originally published in the Alameda Sun.