Kathleen Stewart has dedicated half of her life to Healdsburg’s beloved community bakery, the Downtown Bakery & Creamery.
But, after 35 years as the owner and operator of the Sonoma County business, known for adhering to the principles of the farm-to-fork movement, she has officially put it up for sale.
Stewart, 72, who recognizes she’s ready to move on, said: “It’s someone else’s turn.”
Stewart started baking with former pastry chef Lindsey Shere and former cook Therese Shere, with whom she had worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Together, they applied the âsustainable food practicesâ they learned at Chez Panisse to the bakery.
In 1997, however, the Shere’s left and Stewart’s children, Joe Stewart, now 40, and Maya Eshom, now 46, began working with their mother, doing some work. business a family affair.
After the coronavirus pandemic struck in the spring of 2020, coupled with the state-ordered shutdown, many business owners were forced to review and reconsider their operations.
Stewart said she took the time to step back from the bakery and think about what was most important to her.
“In June, I decided that I had to move on to the next chapter in my life, my children also had to move on,” she said. âWe stayed open during the pandemic, which forced us all to work harder. It becomes tiring. The pandemic sort of accelerated the process of confronting a reality that I had to face. “
Located on Healdsburg Plaza, the bakery’s reputation grew, as did the demand for its baked goods and other sweets made from locally grown organic ingredients.
It attracted hundreds of visitors every week, as well as longtime regulars every day. And on weekends, no one was surprised to see a line come out of their front door.
Healdsburg customer Beverly Aziz, 72, an avid baker and seasoned foodie, said she fell in love with the bakery when she first tried it three years ago after moving house in Healdsburg.
She said she takes a bag of pastries every week.
âThe quality of these pastries is unlike anything I have tasted before. I’m a little picky with my pastries, âAziz said, as she adjusted her brown bag overflowing with delicious pastries. âThe bakery has the best bread pudding by far. Oh! And the coconut cake – gosh, that coconut cake.
âThis place is a big part of my community,â she added.
The sale of Downtown Bakery & Creamery follows other Healdsburg businesses that have made changes that can, at least in part, be attributed to the economic fallout of more than a year.
In November, the Parish Cafe, a New Orleans-style restaurant, went on sale after owners Rob and Karla Lippincott decided they wanted to leave Sonoma County.
Then, on June 1, Singletree Cafe, a 20-year-old breakfast bar, closed due to significant financial problems during large-scale forest fires, as well as the long-delayed construction of a roundabout. from the neighboring town.
Ryn Longmaid, a restaurant broker who works with Stewart to find the bakery’s next owner, said several shoppers were knocking on her door but she didn’t have enough restaurants to point them to.
âNormally, salespeople are concerned that letting it be known that a business is for sale could disrupt the business (revenues) and employees,â Longmaid said. âI would expect the opposite given the success of the bakery and its location. We want to continue the lineage of this downtown bakery.
On August 1, Downtown Bakery & Creamery officially went on sale and now awaits its next owner – one who Stewart hopes will have a community spirit.
âWhen it comes to food, it’s all about relationships. The relationships you have with your vendors, your farmers, your customers are very important, âshe said. “I hope that the next one to take over will keep an eye on maintaining these relationships.”
You can contact Editor-in-Chief Mya Constantino at [email protected] or 707-521-5220. On Twitter @searchingformya.