Tuesday, September 26, 2023

SFGate shows Semifreddi's some love

My favorite bakery is a local outfit that's been in business for nearly 40 years. Here's a great article about a great local business: This 40-year old Bay Area bakery makes 190,000 loaves every week

At the center of the active bread-making operation is Semifreddi’s CEO Tom Frainier, who prefers to be called the “chief bootlicker,” and chief creative officer Mike Rose, who is best known by his 126 employees as Semifeddi’s “mad scientist.” Among the many hats they wear, the co-owners are Semifreddi’s official taste-testers for the 45 breads and baked goods the 39-year-old bakery produces.

The story has great details of how a business gets created.

By 1988, Barbara gained two new business partners with unconventional backgrounds: her husband and Frainier (her brother). Unlike Barbara, Rose and Frainier’s professional backgrounds couldn’t be further from the culinary world. For the previous 10 years, Rose had worked as a sales representative at import company Albert Kessler. He said Barbara helped him learn the ropes at the bakery while he devoured the fundamentals of baking in cookbooks in his spare time. Nevertheless, it was no piece of cake.

“It was a learning process,” Rose recalls of his early days. “Bread is simple yet challenging and complicated. I had some beginner’s luck but not enough humility at first.”

A crucial observation was that the owners deliberately decided not to grow beyond the size they felt they could handle.

Around the bakery’s 20th anniversary in 2004, Rose and Frainier turned down an investor who urged them to open a Semifreddi’s outpost in Los Angeles. Years later, they don’t regret the decision. They preferred to err on the side of caution to keep Semifreddi’s a local treasure and avoid the route of becoming a frozen food aisle item.

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