Would take former Scully's location; waiting for a permitNOVATO – Three years after opening its first bakery cafe in Larkspur, Rustic Bakery plans to open a second one here this summer to accommodate its growing wholesale business.
Owners Josh Harris and Carol LeValley are shooting for a July 1 opening of a 2,000-square-foot bakery cafe at 1407 Grant Ave. in Novato. Originally looking to open a wholesale-only business in the Bel Marin Keys industrial area of Novato, they decided to open a wholesale and retail location in the space formerly occupied by Skully's Bakery & Cafe.
[caption id="attachment_19962" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Rustic Bakery co-owner Carol LeValley (in van) with crew members (from left) Alfa Garcia, Yasmine Salinas, Erica Garcia, Lusi Rodriguez and Liza Curtiss (courtesy of Rustic Bakery)"][/caption]
Rustic Bakery needed to expand the wholesale side of the business last summer. The Larkspur bakery reached full production capacity to fill orders for 25 flatbread and other organic baked goods going to cheese shops and grocery stores throughout Northern California.
"Our wholesale business is in sort of a stranglehold, and we can't take new customers," Ms. LeValley said.
The owners found out last August that the county health department review process for foodservice businesses would make them miss the window to be open in time for holiday shopping late last year. Now, having decided to wait and as the clock ticks down toward July, they are hoping for clearance to acquire building permits to get up and running for this year's season.
Limited production capacity in Larkspur has resulted in allocations of quantities or products to customers.
"It's nice to be in an oversold condition, but customers tolerate that for only so long," she said.
The couple started Rustic in 2005 to crack into growing consumer interest in artisan cheese with a line of handmade toasted flatbreads. The business expanded after a year into Larkspur.
Rustic's rising revenue caught fire in 2006 with the introduction of a private label flatbread for fellow Marin artisan producer Cowgirl Creamery of Pt. Reyes Station. Rustic's products now are sold in Cowgirl's west Marin, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., stores.
That led to a wholesale business distributed through Cheeseworks, an Alameda-based specialty food distributor. That has taken Rustic products to all Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California, including the one to open this month in Novato and likely the second Mill Valley store in June. Other points of sale are Paradise Foods in Corte Madera, Woodlands Market in Kentfield, Mill Valley Market, The Oakville Markets and The Pasta Shops in Berkeley and Oakland.
The Novato bakery cafe is being designed by San Rafael-based restaurant interior architecture firm EDG of San Rafael. The budget for the project is $200,000.
The arrival of Rustic Bakery to Novato is part of a revitalization of the historical downtown area, according to Ron Gerber, city director of economic development and redevelopment.
"Many cities want one independent bakery, but we have three downtown," he said. The other two are Creekside Bakery at 1719 Grant and flourChylde at 850 Grant.