The smell of freshly baked bread from the wood-fire oven now wafts around the brick walls of the popular Oakland development known as the Hive. Firebrand Artisan Breads has arrived.
The wholesale bakery moved its operations from West Oakland to a 4,800-square-foot space in the Uptown neighborhood and opened its first retail outlet, which sells breads, pastries and sandwiches, on Saturday.
“It’s been a dream of ours for quite some time,” said Colleen Orlando, who co-founded Firebrand with baker Matt Kreutz. “We really want to bring the experiences of our bakers’ lives to the Oakland community.”
Kreutz, who created Firebrand’s signature wood-fire bread, said the large space allows visitors to really see the products being made. “We want people to see how much work goes into what we do and how much care we put into everything,” he said.
Until now, Firebrand breads were only available at farmers markets and through stores such as Whole Foods.
As you enter the new bakery, you might spot Orlando — who oversees Firebrand’s pastry program — working at one of the large pastry tables on the left. Or you might see Jeff Mason of Pal’s Takeaway, which recently relocated to Oakland from San Francisco, making sandwiches and salads. Firebrand is also pouring East Bay-based Highwire Coffee.
“We wanted to keep it local and really Oakland-centric,” said Kreutz.
Being locally focused may be part of the success of the Hive, which opened earlier this year as a mixed-use development with office space, retail and housing units all in the large block on Broadway between 23rd and 24th streets. Mostly made up of refurbished auto showrooms, the Hive is home to the shared community work space Impact Hub, People’s Barber Shop, East Bay-born Numi Organic Teas and Truve Fitness.
But it’s the food spots that have created much of the buzz, from the spacious Drake’s Dealership beer garden, to the grand Oaxacan restaurant Calavera, which we visited over the summer.
“The Hive is really a city experience,” said Mike Ghielmetti, founder and president of Oakland-based Signature Development Group, Inc., which developed the project.
“The retail space is divided into a variety of uses, but it’s anchored by the food elements,” he said. Restaurants and dining are “a part of the culture and flavor of Oakland, and they’re also in high demand by local consumers and tourists who come to the Uptown neighborhood.”
While Firebrand Artisan Breads is one of the last major tenants to open this year, there’s still more to come. Oakland-based Red Bay Coffee is scheduled to open a coffee stand in a refurbished shipping container across from Calavera in January, and Ghielmetti hopes to announce the signing of another restaurant that should open in the corner space by next summer.
In finding tenants for the development, Ghielmetti said it was important to focus on popular local establishments instead of chains. “We try to serve as a familiar and interesting place to come and bring friends and neighbors for a uniquely Oakland experience,” he said.
It’s the community vibe that attracted Firebrand to the Hive in the first place. “Everyone has been supportive of us,” said Kreutz. “It all seemed to come together organically.”
We visited the Hive during Firebrand’s opening on Saturday. Take a look at the entire development in the photos below.
Firebrand Artisan Breads is at 2343 Broadway (between 23rd and 24th streets), Oakland. 510-594-9213. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Connect with the bakery on Facebook.
Benjamin Seto is the voice behind Focus:Snap:Eat, where he dishes on food at restaurants and shops in the Bay Area, in his kitchen, and from his culinary adventures.
Want to keep up-to-date on all the food, drink and restaurant news in the East Bay? Subscribe to NOSH Weekly, the free weekly email packed with delicious news. Simply sign up here.