Since Bon Appétit named Arsicault the country’s best new bakery in 2016, owner Armando Lacayo has multiplied production and increased staff to the extent that his tiny Richmond District operation feels to him like he’s opened a whole new location. Soon, with the addition of a new Civic Center outpost of Arsicault, that will be more literally true.
Lacayo recently signed a lease on ground floor retail space at the Book Concern Building (83 McAllister at Leavenworth), where he’ll eventually serve more of his signature croissants and kouign amanns, plus new offerings like sourdough bread and classic French desserts. Construction on the larger, roughly 3,000-square-foot space begins soon, and the new bakery will open sometime next year.
Technically, another location of Arsicault predates Lacayo’s Richmond District outpost. In the early 1900s, his great-grandparents opened the original Arsicault Boulangerie on the outskirts of Paris. At his San Francisco Arsicault, Lacayo has hung a 1907 black-and-white photograph of his great-grandparents outside their boulangerie, carrying baked goods by horse and buggy. The namesake for Lacayo’s operation is still in operation today, run by distant relatives.
Inspired by his family history and love of pastry, “an everyday luxury,” Lacayo left a career in finance to pursue his own bakery. He came to the US to study math at American University and then business at MIT, baking for fun on nights and weekends while working in Silicon Valley at American Century Investments.
Lacayo remains his own toughest critic: When Bon Appétit’s editors enjoyed his pastries at the freshly-opened Arsicault (he’s not sure when) “it must have been a really good day,” he says. His flaky croissants are a three-day endeavor, and his celebrated almond croissants (baked a second time with almond filling tinged with Meyer’s dark rum) are an even longer undertaking.
“Sometimes I tell customers I cheat — to make things good, I use good ingredients,” he says, pointing to the quality Comté that enriches his ham and cheese croissants.
When Lacayo arrived in the Richmond, he didn’t know the neighborhood well, but now feels “adopted” by it. In his new location, on the edge of the Tenderloin near City Hall, Arsicault will have many more neighbors, from politicians to homeless people to office workers. To serve its new customers in the Book Concern building — a historic structure that dates to 1907 and was fitted with condos in 2006 — the second Arsicault will stay open later than the first, until 5 or 6. It will feature new lunch items like breads and sandwiches, an espresso machine — lacking at the original Arsicault — plus desserts and far more seating (though everything will be available to-go).
Keep an eye out for more details as construction begins and the new Arsicault approaches.