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MODESTO — Downtown Modesto will welcome Cobblestone Bakery as the newest addition, and only retail baked goods business, in the city center.
The opening marks the bakery’s third location in the Central Valley. In addition to regular farmers market appearances, the business has two sister stores: Riverbank’s Cobblestone Bakery and Modesto’s Country Market on Ladd Road.
The bakery may be familiar to those who frequent the area. The location at 938 11th Street has been in operation for nearly two years as a catering and delivery facility, said Cobblestone’s founder, Gerit Sand. It officially opens to the public April 27.
The downtown district offers tremendous resources and attracts many visitors, said Sand.
More than 10,000 employees work downtown, said Downtown Modesto Partnership CEO Josh Bridegroom
That large employment base makes the district ideal for eateries, he said. In the past few years, the area has welcomed 40 restaurants, a major draw for Valley residents, especially foodies.
As the only retail bakery downtown, it fills a gap in the market, Bridegroom added. Such cuisine diversity has become a brand identity for downtown Modesto.
Cobblestone’s expansion comes at a time when customers all over the nation are hungering for baked goods.
The global market for baked products is projected to exceed $485 billion by 2020, according to “Bakery Products – A Global Strategic Business Report” by worldwide analysis and market information source, Global Industry Analysts. That projected growth is driven by the popularity for organic, healthy baked goods and the rising consumption of bread, among other factors.
Indulgence foods, such as cakes and pastries, also fuel the industry’s growth, the report said. That comes as no surprise to Sand, who said baked goods provide a sense of comfort and culture.
“In Italy, people go to the market every morning to get fresh bread. It’s been a staple food for civilizations since the beginning of time,” Sand said. “I think the bakery industry is always going to be strong because people gravitate toward sugar.”
Sand opened his first business at the age of 18 selling organic tomatoes and squash. He has since opened his own financial and merchant services office, FDIS Stanislaus Financial and Merchant Services. He first opened Cobblestone Bakeries in 2009 when he was 24.
He was inspired to open his bakery after a trip to France.
“There was this little bakery where they made these lemon shortbread cookies,” he said. “I just sat there for hours visiting the family, hearing their stories (about the) generations of family members that have made this specialty cookie.”
The culture, focus on family and deeply rooted respect for bakers in regions such as France and Italy are things he hopes to recreate.
“A lot of people take for granted where their food comes from,” Sand said. “Our country has made everything so commercial. The magic of being a small business owner and creating something people can enjoy has been diminished.”
Sand has found one challenge of the food business is finding skilled labor.
“It comes down to having good staff. If you have staff that doesn’t have the business’ best interest in mind, the rest is going to fail,” he said. “If you can own a bakery, and stay positive and not go out of business, you can do anything. People don’t realize how hard it is to bake, market and sell within a short period of time because it is perishable and fragile. That’s a feat in and of itself.”
Sand markets his businesses mainly by word of mouth. However, he advertises locally via dining guides and a billboard on Highway 108.
The 11th Street bakery will offer 32 varieties of artisan breads. Other offerings include: bagels, ham and cheese croissants, pies, cupcakes, and cannoli such as white chocolate pistachio, or dark chocolate chai. Gluten-free and vegan cannoli are also available for special order.
Among the most popular items are chocolate croissants, lemon cannoli and jalapeño bacon cheese bagels. The shop’s personal-sized mini pies are also customer favorites.
All products are all based on Sand’s own recipes, some of which are featured on Cobblestone’s website.
The downtown bakery will also serve soups, salads, and paninis. The average price tag for a meal will range between $9.99 and $14.
Cobblestone’s baked goods can also be found at festivals and markets in the Central Valley and Bay Area, including weekly farmers markets in Lodi, San Leandro, Danville, Cupertino, Foster City and Carmel Valley, among others.