When it first began in 1977, La Farine was located in the then quiet, undeveloped area of College Ave. (between Alcatraz and Claremont) in Oakland. The bakery had a hand full of employees and catered to a largely neighborhood clientele. Hours of operation were like those in Europe–open early, go home early. Vacations were always taken the whole month of August and the store always closed after Christmas and New Years for a week.
Fast forward to the year 2011, and La Farine finds itself in the midst of 4 bustling neighborhoods in Oakland and Berkeley – all teeming with stores and people in search of quality shopping – and has 80 full and part-time employees. Gone are the leisurely hours of operation…we’re now open seven days a week…and no more vacations in August. But, through it all, La Farine has stayed true to its founding traditions…bringing quality French baked goods to its customers and enriching the neighborhood experience of its patrons. And, in keeping with its commitment to neighborhood, La Farine donates leftover products to area food banks and senior centers and generously supports East Bay Area schools.
Although known throughout the Bay Area, La Farine products are only available at our retail locations. We are rarely a wholesaler of our products, believing that a visit to our bakery is almost as unique as the products themselves. We will always, however, attempt to accommodate you with warm and friendly service…so please stop by and experience La Farine for yourself.
My name is Jeff Dodge and I’m the current owner of La Farine. I say current as I follow a small line of owners, of which I have only scant knowledge. I’ve never met Lillian Lecoq (sp?) who started La Farine over 25 years ago and I only know of her reputation for being a character and superb pastry chef. I purchased the bakery from one of her first employees, Jennifer Sandstrom, who started on the counter as a salesperson, then worked her way into the kitchen and eventually bought La Farine. The most I knew of La Farine when I bought it was that when I wanted a morning bun, this was the only place worth coming.
So how did I end up here? A long story and I won’t bother you with the details so here’s the short version: I was raised in a small town in Colorado (Walden, pop. 800) where I helped my father in his milk delivery business (hence where I picked up my love of a small business). I became a serious classical trumpet player and studied at Northwestern University with a member of the Chicago Symphony (hence where I picked up my love of process).
I eventually received a Masters Degree in Music from the Univ. of Illinois, all the while waiting tables and tending bar to support myself (hence where I got into the food business…the music world wasn’t exactly paying the bills). I then decided that eating was more important than music and knew that the Bay Area had a decent reputation for food (ha!) so I headed west and after stints at Il Fornaio, Bruce Cost’s Monsoon and Acme Bread, I lucked out and found myself in the position to buy La Farine!!
So, an odd journey but a very worthwhile one. Like few people in life, I’ve actually found something that really fits…work that I love and am interested in, with employees who constantly surprise and delight me (and occasionally drive me crazy) serving people who we hopefully dazzle with our efforts…all while carrying on something that has been here a long time and will hopefully be here a lot longer!
So, a quick thank you to my lovely wife Jolene, my incredible kids Phoebe and Elliot, my parents (Harold and Gladys – no, I didn’t make that up) my sister Linda, my fabulous friends Ted Seymour and Gary Frings, Jane Beaumont, Steve and Suzie Sullivan and the whole Acme family … these are a few of the people who have given me support, advice, guidance, and a healthy dose of humor and love. A special thank you to all of my employees…without their hard work and effort none of this would be possible…what a family!!!! And finally, thank you to all of our customers for their support…we hope to continue serving you!