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Breakout Pandemic-Era Pop-Up Bernal Bakery Will Open Its First Permanent Cafe

New bakery and cafe Bernal Basket will take over the Little Bee Space with Roman-style pizza — an homage to the now-closed Pollara Pizzeria

A sign for Bernal Bakery, and a basket for lowering bread down to customers on the street.
Bernal Bakery launched during the COVID lockdowns, drawing national attention for its socially distanced basket delivery system.
Bernal Bakery
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

A fan-favorite bakery launched during the COVID-era shutdowns will move into its first permanent space this winter. Bernal Bakery, launched by partners Ryan Stagg and Danielle Banchero, will take over the Little Bee Bakery space at 521 Cortland Avenue in Bernal Heights, though the business will operate under a different name: Bernal Basket.

Stacie Pierce, who was a longtime pastry chef at Chez Panisse before opening Little Bee, will close the cafe to focus on other parts of the business, Stagg says. The move marks a bit of a full-circle moment for Bernal Bakery: Stagg says Little Bee was Bernal Bakery’s first wholesale account, and the bakery has been popping up inside the Little Bee space every Thursday. “[Pierce] wanted to see it go to somebody that would keep it local and carry on the space,” he says. “That was something that we couldn’t refuse, and it’s the perfect fit for us.”

Ryan Stagg
Ryan Stagg

Bernal Bakery drew local and national attention in 2020, in part for the one-of-a-kind basket delivery system the couple rigged up to drop loaves of bread down to customers on the street. Stagg and Banchero started baking bread after being laid off from their chef jobs during the pandemic; as demand for their sourdough loaves grew, they began selling them to neighbors. Eventually, they realized they needed to find a way to get their baked goods to fans without breaching COVID safety protocols. “That’s when the basket came into play,” Stagg says, “and that little basket really sparked everything that we have today.”

Since then, they’ve been selling their bread, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and croissants at farmers markets and pop-up locations across the Bay Area — including in San Francisco, Oakland, San Mateo, and Pleasanton. And despite making the jump into a permanent space, Stagg says they’ll continue the market schedule. “They’ve just been an absolute blessing for us and we love doing them,” he says. “So that’s very much going to continue being in place.”

Stagg says he’s excited to be able to expand the business with the counter service and new space. They’ll be a “classic San Francisco-style sourdough bakery,” he says, offering about a dozen or so varieties of bread. But they’ll also sell laminated pastries like croissants and other baked goods such as danishes, quick breads, and scones. Before the pandemic, Stagg worked at the now-closed Pollara Pizzeria in Berkeley, and he plans to bring the restaurant’s Roman-style of pizza al taglio to the cafe. There will be breakfast sandwiches, about 10 kinds of pizza al taglio, and a selection of antipasti, Stagg says. Down the line, they hope to add beer and wine to the beverage options for those who will be stopping by to pick up dinner.

Since it’s a turnkey-ready space, Stagg hopes to be up and running by March — “if everything goes according to plan,” he says.

Follow Bernal Bakery on Instagram for updates.