San Francisco’s Boudin Bakery got its start in 1849 and is now the city’s oldest operating business. The bakery crafts a wide variety of bread such as sourdough, panettone and kalamata olive, as well as croissants, baguettes and other baked goods.
To carry the bread from the bakery to the retail shelves, the bakers fill up baskets with fresh bread, which then slide on tracks to awaiting guests. The location bakes 20,000 loaves of bread daily.
Bread is baked fresh daily with a starter called mother dough, a combination of indigenous natural yeast and lactobacillus cultivated with a mixture of water and flour. The mother dough has been used daily for more than 150 years.
Guests to the restaurant and bakery can watch bread being prepared daily through the large windows. “The heart of the restaurant is the bakery,” said Gayle DeBrosse, Boudin’s executive VP, Business Development & Marketing.
The demonstration kitchen also can be seen from the street through large, tinted windows.
Attached to the bakery and second-floor restaurant is a marketplace that features a themed selection of coffee, tea, sauces and other items indigenous to the surrounding area.
Each store area is introduced in three languages, English, Spanish and French. In addition to coffee and tea, the market features a selection of BBQ sauces, cookbooks, children’s items and gardening tools.
The Boudin Bakery location at Fisherman’s Wharf also features a large second-floor fullservice restaurant, Bistro Boudin.
The upstairs décor of Bistro Boudin matches the architectural environment of the wharf and is attached to the Boudin Bakery museum. The windows to the left provide a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
The Boudin museum includes a history of the bakery and pays homage to its founder, Isidore Boudin, who brought his French baking skills with him to San Francisco in mid-century.
The museum also features a historical narrative of other famed San Francisco icons such as the Ghirardelli and Wells Fargo families.
In 1973, Isidore married Louise Erni at Notre Dame des Victoires in San Francisco. Boudin also began to deliver bread to doorstops via horse-drawn wagon. The bread was hung on each door by nail.
Although the Great Earthquake and Fire almost destroyed Boudin Bakery in 1906, a quick-thinking Louise managed to save a large chunk of the mother dough in a bucket.