Photography by Jeff Hunt and Michelle Kilfeather
Several of the worker/owners at Arizmendi Bakery on Ninth Avenue have been there since the place opened 22 years ago. Around half of them have worked there for two decades.
Continuing our series on San Francisco co-ops, this time we travel to the Inner Sunset and this special place that serves up so many delicious treats. Whether it's a morning pastry, an evening vegetarian pizza, or an delicious cookie for dessert, Arizmendi has got you covered.
In Part 1, Sue Lopez speaks to her own history as well as how the original spot in the East Bay, Berkeley's Cheese Board Collective, spawned what today is a Bay Area group of cooperative bakeries.
The conversation covers such topics as: what it meant for a co-op to expand to more than one location; the differences among Arizmendi/Cheese Board locations; how the Ninth Avenue location brings about new menu items; the cooperative movement of the late-1960s/early 1970s; the meaning of the name "Arizmendi"; opening the spot on Ninth Avenue, which was the third in the collective group; and the Inner Sunset community.
In Part 2, we hear from baker/owners Lizzy Harvey and Aeri Swendson.
Lizzy shares her story of being born and raised in San Francisco, leaving for college and coming back, and what, besides baking, she's up to these days (namely, circus and aerial arts). After her return to The City, she was teaching here and got a grant to teach English for one year in Córdoba, Argentina, where she ended up cooking a lot, especially chocolate. Upon her return to the States, she looked for a job to help her pursue her new love. The collective/cooperative aspect of Arizmendi was a bonus. She was a candidate pre-pandemic, and ended up being voted in in March 2020. Timing, y'all.
Aeri grew up outside of Seattle and moved to SF for college (SF State) in 2003. She lived in the Sunset during college and became a customer at Arizmendi. Aeri worked at Green Apple on Clement and taught gymnastics after graduation before getting the job at Arizmendi 11 years ago. She had baked virtually all her life and knew a little about co-ops before coming on. She speaks to, among other things, the incredible life/work balance that a job at Arizmendi allows its baker/owners.
If you missed it, please go back and check out our episode with Other Avenues Grocery Cooperative.
Resources mentioned in the podcast:
This episode was recorded at Arizmendi Bakery on Ninth Avenue in the inner Sunset in November 2022.