On their way down the coast to the warm shores of Baja California, Georgina and Joel Peterson returned to one of their old haunts – Alameda on the Bay. And this time, it was by boat. They motored down from Seattle, having to take two days shelter at one point during a turbulent storm, and finally arrived and tied up at a guest berth off the Nob Hill parking lot near Alameda’s Fruitvale Bridge. (Always a good policy to tie up next to a gourmet market!) It had been years since they last lived in Alameda, so much of the city was new to them.
When asked if they had discovered a restaurant they really liked, Georgina immediately said, “I found Feel Good Bakery. They have great bread and pastries!” So we sauntered down to both bakeries, one in the Alameda Marketplace on Park and the other in Encinal Shopping Center on Encinal at High. Feel Good Bakery’s sourdough bread has been a highlight of the Petersons’s stay in Alameda.
Besides their classic European-style breads and sourdoughs, Feel Good Bakery makes three pizzas daily, one for everyone – cheese, vegetarian and pepperoni. Their Holiday Stollen is excellent – not too sweet and perfectly spiced. For those who love sweets, there are Danish with fresh fruit, cupcakes, cakes, tarts and cookies. They bake muffins and scones and even cheese sticks that change daily. Feel Good Bakery bakes with organic locally-sourced ingredients, all non-GMO. Flour, nuts, fruit and cheeses come from local vendors who also are committed to producing the highest quality product they can.
Andy Manakitivipart has been working for Feel Good Bakery since Aug. 2016 and splits his time between the two stores. “I do cashiering and pastries and am enrolled in a two year certification program in Baking at Laney College.” What inspired Andy to start baking? “I used to work at Tucker’s Ice Cream and Henry was a baker and he got me into baking.”
Jessica Perez, on the other hand, is currently a full-time retail associate. She works at both stores also, explaining that it works best for the company that employees understand how both bakery locations operate. “On my down time I hang with the bakers. I like to shape the dough. But it is really hard! The great thing about working here is that you don’t have to stay in one job. If you want to learn something else, you can.” Jessica seems to love her job and has been here for two years.
General Manager Julien Wagner chimed in, “We proudly employ 58 people. I think they appreciate that we value them as much as our customers. We value their opinions and suggestions for making the bakery a better place to work and a better place to shop.” Feel Good Bakery takes pride in using only the best, natural and locally sourced ingredients. “Since everything is made by hand it has that human touch you rarely find anymore.”
Upon completion of his schooling, Julien traveled and then worked at Delfina in San Francisco as pastry chef. Wanting to get back into baking breads, Julien started working at Feel Good Bakery in October of 2007. “I was immediately drawn to the intimacy of the bakery, the quality of the ingredients and owner Rick Kellner’s respect of boulangerie tradition. Feel Good Bakery has given me the opportunity to explore, learn and develop my passion as a baker. I’ve loved bakeries since I was a boy growing up in Paris. I’ve always loved the smell and the sounds of the bakery. The sweet smell of the baguettes baking or the crackling of the crust as they cool on the rack. The buttery chocolaty smells of the chocolate croissants. These are the things that awaken childhood memories and for just that moment I can be transported back in time to relive that joy.”
They make over 300 loaves a day during the week and as many as 650 on Saturdays. Their Farmers Market locations are on their website. If you follow them on their social media, you can take advantage of all the sales and deals.
On our way out, we learned another interesting thing about this bakery. Raw dough cannot be tossed into the garbage as it may explode due to the yeast. So scraps of overworked dough are rolled together and baked in the oven before disposal. Excess food is donated to homeless shelters and the company focuses on waste reduction, recycling and composting whatever cannot be donated.
Store Hours for Feel Good Bakery:
1650 Park St., Alameda Marketplace 510-864-2733
Monday – Friday: 7am – 8pm
Saturday: 8am – 8pm
Sunday: 8am – 7pm
3215 Encinal Ave., Encinal Shopping Center 510-263-9439
Monday – Friday: 7am – 8pm
Saturday and Sunday: 8am – 8 pm
How Feel Good Bakery came about
Rick Kellner moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and realized that though there were lots of excellent bakeries, no one seemed to be baking small-batch, hand-crafted, European-style breads. So in 2002 he started baking in his apartment in San Francisco and in 2004 opened Feel Good Bakery on Park St. in Alameda’s Marketplace. He opened his second location in 2016 in the Encinal Shopping Center.
The Petersons will be thinking of their bakery find as they continue down the coast with a freezer full of Feel Good Bakery breads. And bags of their crostini.