Arizmendi San Rafael finally opened April 6th!
I've been looking forward to this bakery opening for months. Seasons, actually. You see, it's not that we don't have Arizmendi in the city. We do. And it's fantastic--although on the opposite end of town from where I live. But my mom is a quick hop from the new location in San Rafael and I find myself at her house often because a) she's cool, b) she cooks for me and c) she has much better cable and cute dogs. So when I heard that Arizmendi had finally opened this week, I made a point to cruise on over and check it out. All in the name of research.
If you're not familiar with Arizmendi, they're not only an incredible bakery but they use a very cool worker cooperative business model. Over thirty years ago now, Berkeley's worker-owned, Cheeseboard cooperative opened. The model was so succesful that they helped open another bakery in Oakland that year--Arizmendi on Lakeshore Avenue was born. The rest is history. So without going into too much detail on the ins and outs of cooperatives (although it's quite fascinating), in short everyone weighs in on decisions ranging from opening hours to new pizza flavors.
Part of their mission statement reads:
Acting on the belief that beneficial change can come through collective action, we are a worker-owned and democratically-operated bakery cooperative. We make decisions by consensus and we share all of the business tasks, responsibilities, benefits, and risks, while being accountable to each other.
Call me crazy but this sense of care and ownership shines through in the product. Without a doubt. In the San Rafael store, this passion is immediately detectable. While I was expecting a more watered-down Arizmendi experience that would possibly cater to a different, more suburban clientele, I was pleasantly surprised.