Berkeley’s Flour & Co. closes due to slow business

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Flour & Co.’s café had its last day July 31. Photo: Marites Abueg

After only 10 months of operation on University Avenue (at Acton), Flour & Co. has closed its café as of July 31. The on-site bakery will continue operating at that location.

Owner Emily Day told Nosh in an email: “It was a hard decision to make, but necessary for my business. We simply weren’t getting enough traffic to sustain the café business. Our bakery café in San Francisco and our catering business has always been strong, so I couldn’t risk losing everything for the under-performing café in Berkeley.”

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“We’ll sure miss and thank the neighbors and friends we’ve met over the last ten months,” she added.


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A sign posted on the front of Flour & Co. on University Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Bill Newton

Day will continue to use the large kitchen behind the public-facing café as production space for her original San Francisco bakery and café, as well as for catering production. She is also planning to offer some of her products in local grocery stores in the near future.

The kitchen space was one of the major reasons Day decided to open her second location in Berkeley, at 1398 University Ave. (at Acton). She told Nosh in February 2015 that the kitchen, clocking in at close to 2,500 square feet, was ideal for an expansion. Her San Francisco kitchen is “miniature,” and much of the baking infrastructure from the previous tenant in Berkeley, Bread Workshop, was still in place.

As for the café, which was designed by local architects Abueg Morris, Day is currently looking for a tenant to sublease the space. “It would be perfect for a coffee roaster or the like,” she said.

Neighbor Gregory Paxton, who initially tipped Nosh off to the closure, said: “While I was bit surprised at the suddenness, I was not entirely shocked. I’d noted changes in hours and hiring in recent months, as well as price increases.”

Another neighbor said she was “sorry to see them close,” calling the café “very clean and pleasant.” She added that “biscuits were absolutely scrumptious” and the staff paid “plenty of attention to details” and did everything “very carefully and thoughtfully.”


Flour & Co., which opened in September 2015, served an eclectic menu of coffee drinks (care of Portland’s Stumptown Coffee), American-style baked goods like brown butter banana bread and “toasty tarts” (scratch-made Pop Tart-like pastries), breakfast and lunchtime sandwiches, soups, and salads. It was one of the few places in the area that offered breakfast items beyond pastries and bagels.

 

Emily Day of Flour & Co. Photo: Doug Ng
Emily Day, owner of Flour & Co. Photo: Doug Ng

“Suddenly, my immediate morning neighborhood options seem to have become primarily pastries again,” said Paxton, “perhaps reflecting the reality of a coffee-shop demographic that [may have] not wanted much more than pastries all along.”

Across the street, the Fellini Coffee window does offer pre-made breakfast burritos from Sonoma Muffin Company, but they’re a far cry from a house-made breakfast sandwich.

Nearby, Algorithm Coffee, which opened in February, only offers Firebrand pastries. Owner Aaron Hubbard has said he would be building a more extensive food menu over time, but so far, the only addition has been bagels and spreads from Authentic Bagel.

And Highwire Coffee Roasters, which replaced Local 123 at 2049 San Pablo Ave. (at University) in February 2015, recently downsized its menu from soups, sandwiches and pastries to pastries alone, none of which are made in house. Nosh has heard from baristas at Highwire that the owners are looking for an outside food company or chef to come in to manage food operations, but there’s no timeline on that shift. Paxton added that “a Highwire employee informed me they were returning to a focus on coffee.”


In the interim, coffee shop patrons will have to stay sated with the (excellent) croissants at Algorithm or the paleo muffins at Highwire, and fans of Flour & Co.’s baked goods will just have to look out for their appearance at Berkeley Bowl or Whole Foods.

Related:
Flour & Co. quietly opened this week on University (09.30.15)
San Francisco’s Flour & Co. top open Berkeley bakery (02.11.15)

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