Bakers of Paris, one of the largest wholesale bakeries in the city, plans to close on Friday, March 20, Hoodline reported first. In a letter that went out to customers on Monday, February 17, the owners said the landlord raised the rent to $650,000 per year, nearly doubling their expiring lease. Owners Lionel Robbe-Jedeau and Gilles Wicker came from Paris before founding the company in 1981 and went on to have a nearly 40-year run, supplying the city with baguettes, rolls, and croissants, from the big hotels to corner delis.
Bakers of Paris first opened in South San Francisco, before moving to the current production facility with 30,000 square feet in Brisbane in 1997. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, the company opened storefronts in the Haight, Noe Valley, and Parkside, but those all closed when the owners decided to go big on wholesale. At the time, in 1981, San Francisco bread was synonymous with dense, tangy sourdough, and in contrast, Bakers of Paris was a couple of French guys, serving sweet, light, classic baguette. Today, baking fresh bread every day might sound quotidian, but at the time, they had to surmount challenges that included opposition from the powerful Teamsters union, which took issue with their plan to deliver bread every day of the week. Keep in mind, Acme didn’t even open until 1983.
Today, Bakers of Paris does big volume and consistency, supplying the city with sweet baguettes, Dutch crunch rolls, brioche burger buns, croissants, pain au chocolat, and more. In an interview, Robbe-Jedeau tells Eater SF that they have 330 wholesale clients, which range from the Marriott and Hilton hotels, the Moscone convention center, and SFO airport, to local grocery stores such as Safeway and Whole Foods, to small restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops. He has a soft spot for the Vietnamese banh mi shops, which rely on his white rolls. “I worry our smaller accounts will now struggle, because they won’t be able to find quality, affordable options,” he says.
Bakers of Paris might not be the biggest wholesaler in the city — Robbe-Jedeau suspects Semifreddi’s and Acme both do higher volume — but he believes it was unique in serving a wide range of large and small clients. Bread is San Francisco has dramatically changed over the past 40 years, moving from that dense, tart sourdough to the rise of alternative grains and freshly milled flours, not to mention avocado toast. Robbe-Jedeau is now 72 years old, and while he hasn’t decided his next move, he doubts Bakers of Paris will reopen and start over from scratch. When it comes to fresh, white bread, our corner delis will simply have to build our sandwiches on something else.
“This younger generation, they feed themselves with less bread. It’s more smoothies, salads, other things,” Robbe-Jedeau says. “But good French bread, that is straightforward, still has its place.”