Our Story

In the Beginning…

The Semifreddi’s story begins in the year 1900 in Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, New York where our grandfather Frank Poorten, an immigrant from Germany, opened his own bakery on the corner of Broad Street and Delaware Avenue. We didn’t know we had baking in our blood until very recently when we found a picture of grandpa Poorten standing proudly in front of his Buffalo bakery. (Fried baloney, anyone?!)
So it could have been either fate or genetics that led us into the baking business back in 1984. At that time Barbara was a UC Berkeley graduate who had also earned a culinary arts degree. Michael (Barbara’s husband) had also graduated from Berkeley with a degree in economics and brother Tom, equipped with a Berkeley MBA, joined the business after bailing out of the corporate world. The three of us shared a common passion for baking great bread and pastries. To save money, we lived together in a small Berkeley flat and in 1984, Semifreddi’s opened its doors in a 450-square-foot bakery in Kensington, California (right next door to Berkeley).

At this point you might want to pour yourself a cup of coffee and settle in…
Back and White photo of 3 Semifreddis co-founders standing in bakeryBack and White photo of 3 Semifreddis co-founders standing in bakery

Bread and Pastry Nerds

We learned quickly that baking great bread and pastries requires both patience and know-how. Lesson #1 was that you have to let the dough rise slowly and consistently. The same lesson applies to running a successful company. Since 1984, Semifreddi’s has grown slowly and consistently to become one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier artisan bakeries. We are passionate about baking and dedicated to providing our customers with exceptional products and great value.

The best part about starting out small was that we had to learn every aspect of the baking process and what it takes to consistently bake handcrafted high quality bread and pastries. We also learned how important it is to give back to the community that we serve. As we have grown, we have maintained our high standards and have always kept the quality of each product that carries our name foremost in our minds.

In baking, quality starts with the ingredients and we use only the best. All of our ingredients are “real” (real eggs, real butter) and we don’t cut corners. Our products have never contained transfats or preservatives and never will. Maintaining our high standards doesn’t always come easily and we literally do search the world for the best tasting and highest quality ingredients. Our flour is milled in Oakland. Our fennel and sesame seeds come from India and our cinnamon from Indonesia. Our olive oil is imported from Spain and our vanilla from Madagascar. We found the best poppy seeds in Australia and our Mission Almonds and Guittard Chocolate come from right here in California.

You’re about half way there…
Black and white photo of woman making breadBlack and white photo of woman making bread

Sweat the Small Stuff

And then there are all of those little things that just make a lot of sense to us. We bake extra bread and pastries everyday so we can deliver only those loaves that meet our standards. The “extra” fresh bread and pastries are donated daily to local charities. Our facility is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. We employ over 100 full-time employees and bake over 200,000 loaves of bread and over 40,000 pastries and cookies each week. Our trucks deliver fresh bread and pastries daily to markets, restaurants and cafés throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. And keep in mind that all of our bread and pastries are certified Kosher Pareve and Kosher Dairy.

​​​​​​​Only 225 more words to go…​​​​​​​
Black and white photo of man making breadBlack and white photo of man making bread

Be Good. Do Good.

Since we’re bread and pastry nerds, we “get” that our employees are an important part of our organization and they too are proud of their contribution to producing a great line of products. We believe in promoting from within, and all of our bakers and most of our managers have come up through the ranks. Our goal is to provide the best pay and benefits of any artisan bakery in the country. 
Black and white photo of man placing baguettes in basketBlack and white photo of man placing baguettes in basket
We never get tired of baking bread and pastries and we never get tired of learning how to make our products even better. We love to show people how real bread is made and give weekly tours to schools and community organizations. The San Francisco Bay Area has been good to us and we feel obligated to return the favor.

We think that grandfather Poorten would be proud that the tradition of serving one’s community by selling quality products at reasonable prices remains alive and well at Semifreddi’s. So, thanks for being part of the Semifreddi’s story. Our loyal customers are the real reason for our success. Our plan for the future of Semifreddi’s is to remain family owned, to continue to grow (relatively slowly), and to provide you with the freshest and highest quality bread and pastries for many years to come.