Prominent Los Angeles bakery abruptly closes two locations

Prominent Los Angeles bakery abruptly closes two locations

On Monday, the 34-year-old La Brea Bakery abruptly announced the closure of its flagship store in Los Angeles, as well as its cafe in the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim.

As one of the nation’s largest sellers of fresh bread, La Brea is focusing its efforts on its retail business.

“It’s really a very simple decision and the answer is our business strategy,” La Brea Bakery Chief Commercial Officer Christine Prociv told SFGATE. “… We are in the business of creating delicious artisan bread and other baked goods, not the restaurant business.”

La Brea is owned by parent company Aspire Bakeries, which also owns Otis Spunkmeyer and Oakrun Farm Bakery. La Brea bread is already available for sale in many grocery stores, including Andronico’s Community Markets in San Francisco and Safeway stores in Berkeley, but the bakery plans to expand its distribution.

While customers will still be able to find La Brea bread in grocery stores, many expressed concern about the news on social media.

“It’s really sad from our point of view,” Prociv said. “We run a business, but it’s also our brand and it’s our heritage, and it’s our history. And these cafes have been around for a long time. They’re really our flagship, so it’s unfortunate and it was really a difficult business decision for us.”

But, she added, “Like everyone else, being in the restaurant business is a total challenge.”

During La Brea’s 34 years, it has had a total of 18 different locations licensed. After Monday’s closings, only La Brea franchise kiosks remain at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, New York’s JFK Airport and Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.

La Brea founders Nancy Silverton (a pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at the time) and Mark Peel opened their first La Brea location in Los Angeles in 1989. While Acme Bakery had already started a sourdough revolution in Bay Area in 1983. La Brea is often credited with bringing good sourdough to Southern California. A La Brea baguette even won a blind sourdough taste test by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1997. Today, La Brea still uses its original sourdough starter.

In 2001, La Brea opened its Downtown Disney location, one of the first businesses to open in the outdoor mall outside of the theme park. Earl of Sandwich will temporarily relocate to the La Brea space while it waits for its permanent location in the area to be built. The La Brea site is then slated to be remodeled into a new Porto bakery.

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