In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the main priority of La Brea Bakery, San Leandro, Calif., is to get bread in the hands of the people.
“As soon as we heard about these grocery shortages, we raced into our local bakeries and started baking to make sure our neighborhood had a supply,” said Jon Davis, vice president of innovation for Aryzta North America and La Brea Bakery. “We’re trying to ramp up production to make sure our consumers and customers would get exactly what they needed.”
On the wholesale level, La Brea Bakery’s pre-packaged products are frozen, so the bakery had plenty of inventory to meet immediate demand. The challenge was simply getting the bread to the grocery stores fast enough.
“To date we’ve been successful in meeting the increased demand for our La Brea Bakery breads,” said Laura Shannon, vice president, planning and logistics at Aryzta North America. “This has been accomplished by recognizing the need to take our supply planning to a new level to best support our customers. We are currently operating at service levels more than 99%.”
To keep up with this increased demand, at the production level, La Brea Bakery is refocusing its efforts on those products its retail customers are asking for. While the bakery produces many different artisans, from staples to specialty, La Brea is focusing production only on those breads its retail customers are asking for: mostly the pre-packaged take-and-bake items.
With its Los Angeles and Downtown Disney cafes, La Brea Bakery is also seeing the pandemic’s effects from both sides of the food industry, the run on grocery stores and the desolation that it has brought to foodservice. While the Downtown Disney location is closed, Aryzta North America, La Brea’s parent company, has left the Los Angeles location open for carry-out and delivery. To ensure the people can have bread, the bakery also started including its bread loaves on third-party delivery apps such as Door Dash.
“We’ve been in this neighborhood for 30 years,” Mr. Davis said. “We’re committed to staying open. People have relied on us for many years, and we’re finding alternative ways to get our fresh-baked breads from our cafes to the customers.”
That neighborhood support also extends to the charity La Brea has extended to its community during the crisis. The bakery is working with its founder Nancy Silverton to provide 300 meals a day to out-of-work culinary workers. The bakery is also supplying bread to nursing homes in the area, and it is also providing 100 packaged lunches a day to health care workers.
“Bread is a staple, and people go right for it,” Mr. Davis said. “We jumped in to make sure that these neighborhoods had what they needed.”
And La Brea Bakery will be doing that as long as it can.