Backhaus opens in San Mateo
Photos by Anna Schuessler/Daily Journal and Kendra Calvert
Having baked bread and pastries out of KitchenTown for more than three years, the San Mateo bakery Backhaus opened the doors to its first brick-and-mortar location June 15 after months of renovating the former office space at 32 East Third Ave. Owner Anne Moser said the new bakery space allows her staff to see the entire baking process from start to finish and has been gratified to see customers’ responses to the new space.
Ever since she learned about the history behind the German word backhaus, Anne Moser has dreamed of a time when she could build a community around bread.
As a central location where farmers and villagers could bake their bread, a backhaus, German for bakehouse, is a concept that’s loomed large for the San Mateo resident and German native who turned a baking hobby into her own business more than three years ago. Since the summer of 2016, Moser and her team have been baking countless crusty country loaves and carefully-crafted pastries out of the commercial kitchen KitchenTown to sell at the College of San Mateo and Burlingame farmers’ markets.
And for more than a week, they have been selling bread, pastries and coffee from the bakery they opened at 32 E. Third Ave., marking the business’ first brick-and-mortar location. Moser said she was pleasantly surprised to hear a line had formed outside the bakery at least 40 minutes before they opened their doors for the first time June 15.
Having received flowers, smiles and well wishes from the dozens of customers who flocked to the bakery, Moser is starting to see the community she envisioned become a reality.
“We’re so excited that people are excited,” she said. “It feels like we finally have a home as a company.”
To make the more than 800 loaves of bread, 2,633 pastries and 400 coffees the bakery sold in its first weekend, Moser said the Backhaus Bread team rolled up their sleeves and did whatever it took to serve all of its customers. Because the bakery now has a space to call home, Moser said those who sold goods at the farmers’ markets are now able to observe the process the bakers undertake to produce the bakery’s bread and pastries. She added the same goes for the bakers, who are able to see the reactions customers have when they purchase baked goods, creating a shared experience she feels is beneficial to both groups as the bakery grows.
“Everyone was in a great mood and had a really good time and worked really hard,” she said, of the bakery’s opening day. “That was great to see, I kind of feel like we have never been as tight of a team as we were that day.”
Moser and her husband Robert Moser signed the lease on the space formerly home to the Morrison Corporate Travel agency in October of 2017 and hoped they would be able to open their doors by the end of 2018. But it wasn’t until last summer that they were able to start demolition on the space that needed to be completely renovated to be able to serve food. She said a space formerly home to a Cricket Wireless store and adjacent to the travel agency became available just before they were to submit their plans to San Mateo for permits, causing them to rethink their designs for what eventually become an airy, bright space accented by natural wood elements. She added ensuring the bakery had the required water and electrical supplies also took months.
“There was a lot of stuff happening that didn’t look like anything was happening,” she said.
The bakery now features a window into the kitchen and seating in the front of the bakery as well as a back patio where customers can sip their coffee. Moser explained employees previously focused on gearing up production of bread and pastries for weekends, when they would be sold at farmers’ markets. Now they are making a transition to baking every day to meet the demand of keeping the bakery doors open Wednesday through Sunday, she said.
“We’re basically completely reorganizing how the bakery works, which is great, because it gives a lot of opportunity to rethink systems,” she said. “At the moment, everyone’s kind of in experimentation mode.”
Moser noted the bakery is taking a break from selling at farmers’ markets for some time so they can ensure it is producing enough for its brick-and-mortar location, but hopes to be back at the markets as soon as possible.
In the meantime, she hopes those in search of their bread and pastries will come by their new location, which Moser noted has given them the opportunity to present their work and invite customers in for the first time. Among Moser’s favorite memories from the bakery’s first few days in its own space are the sounds of staff members greeting customers as they walk in, treating each one like a friend or family member.
“I think that translates into the whole space as well,” she said. “That’s definitely what we want the bakery to be, for people to feel welcome and like they’re coming to a friend’s house.”
Backhaus Bread at 32 E. Third Ave. is open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106