Semifreddi’s Café on Claremont Avenue, a decades-long mainstay for cinnamon bread, baguettes, hot panini, coffee and hot chocolate, will shut its doors Sept. 30.
Tom Frainier, Semifreddi’s president, said several factors led to the decision to close but that sales were not the problem. The lease was coming up for renewal and the rental rate was going up. On top of that, hourly wages are on the upswing.
“We decided it would be increasingly difficult to make money at that location,” he said. He added that it is getting harder and harder to find workers. “We looked at the future and how it’s going to progress. It’s going to be hard for independent cafés to make it long term.”
The closure leaves one Semifreddi’s retail outlet, on Colusa Avenue in Kensington. The Emeryville outlet on Hollis Street closed in 2009.
No employees will be displaced, Frainier said, because several were heading back to college anyway. Others left voluntarily because they did not want to work at the bakery’s Kensington café.
“We will miss their sandwiches so much!” Naho Kermeen wrote in an email.
Reviews on Yelp for the Claremont Avenue café skew positive. In March this year, Gabrielle W. wrote: “The Gospel According To Semifreddi’s has made me a believer of epic proportions. I would lose my figure behind their morning buns and croissants but hit the gym in part so I can indulge their consistently delectable productions.” And, in May, Annelies B. from Belgium, wrote: “Very friendly staff, tasteful sandwich, lovely place to eat!”
The majority of Semifreddi’s business is wholesale. The bakery produces 190,000 loaves of bread and 40,000 pastries every week at its 33,000-square foot facility that opened in 2009 near the Oakland Airport.
Semifreddi’s, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, makes about 50 products and sells them to grocery stores and restaurants all around the Bay Area. The top-selling baguette is the sweet version. Ciabatta, rustic sour, and cinnamon twists are the top loaf breads. The morning bun and croissant are bestselling pastries.
This story was updated after publication after Berkeleyside spoke to Semifreddi’s president Tom Frainier.
A baker’s moment: Semifreddi’s celebrates 30 years (10.06.14)
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