A short and sweet 7 months: Tartine Bakery Berkeley shuts for good

Workers from Tartine said the Graduate Hotel had decided not to renew the bakery’s lease because of slow sales. Eighteen workers have now permanently lost their jobs.

Tartine Bakery is connected to the Graduate, but has a separate street entrance on Durant Avenue.
Tartine Berkeley  in the Graduate Hotel in Berkeley has shut permanently.  Photo: Sarah Han

The Tartine Bakery outlet in the Graduate Hotel on Durant Avenue has permanently closed just seven months after it opened.

Employees of Tartine Berkeley got a letter telling them that the Graduate Hotel “has ended their contract with Tartine citing ‘business decline’ and ‘COVID-19,’” according to an Instagram post by tartineunion, a group of employees who have been pushing, with some success, to unionize the bakery’s 150 or so Bay Area employees. They called the news “heartbreaking.”

Aficionados of Tartine’s crusty loaves made from locally milled wholegrain flour will also be heartbroken. They had eagerly anticipated the September opening of the Berkeley bakery as it meant they didn’t have to go into San Francisco to wait in line for bread, coffee and morning buns, teacakes, scones, fruit-filled bars, fudgy chocolate brownies, cookies and tarts.

While Tartine’s bread and cookbooks have brought international recognition to co-founders Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, many of their local employees have not been happy with their working conditions. In March, the employees at the three San Francisco locations voted to join International Longshore and Warehouse Union. But the vote was close and is being contested.


View this post on Instagram

We have some heart breaking news to report to our community. We received a letter from Tartine’s attorneys that the Graduate Hotel where Tartine Berkeley occupies has ended their contract with Tartine sighting ‘business decline’ and ‘COVID-19’. Tartine Berkeley is officially closed. Tartine Berkeley was the only Tartine workplace that did not receive any support from management for months, did not endure a ruthless anti-union campaign, and voted unanimously 18-0 for the the ILWU to represent them. COVID-19 has been the perfect excuse for employers to upend peoples jobs. Tartine Berkeley staff will not have a place to come back to work. We fought hard for our union because we knew what kind of impact service workers standing up could do for not just us but, for workers everywhere. We want to thank everyone who came out to support the Tartine Berkeley location through fliering, let us speak in your class rooms, and joining us in the street. This isn’t the end either. Our San Francisco siblings are still going to need your help — please consider donating to our Hardship Fund as workers will need your support now than ever. An injury to one is an injury to ALL! #TartineUnion #TartineBerkeley

A post shared by Tartine Union (@tartineunion) on

Workers at the Berkeley store, however, conducted their own election and voted 18 to 0 to join the union.

The shuttering means that the Berkeley workers have lost their jobs, according to the Instagram post. They had been furloughed because of the shelter-in-place order.

“COVID-19 has been the perfect excuse for employers to upend people’s jobs. Tartine Berkeley staff will not have a place to come back to work. We fought hard for our union because we knew what kind of impact service workers standing up could do for not just us but, for workers everywhere. We want to thank everyone who came out to support the Tartine Berkeley location through fliering, let us speak in your class rooms, and joining us in the street,” workers wrote on Instagram.

The owners of the bakery have not posted any news on their website.  It still reads that they are “temporarily closing our Tartine Café.”


Berkeleyside has reached out to Tartine and will update this story as needed.

Frances Dinkelspiel is co-founder and executive editor of Berkeleyside. Email: frances@berkeleyside.com.