Le Boulanger, Inc.
The Brunello Premier Bread Baking Tradition
Baking has been a Brunello family tradition for nearly a century. Paul Brunello, father of Roger and Dan, immigrated to America from Venice, Italy and began the Brunello tradition of true bread baking. Believing in his European roots of serving fresh bread, hot and steaming right out of the oven, Paul opened a small retail and home delivery bakery in 1922 in the little Northern California lumber town of Weed. His Italian bakery became the finest in the region because it offered quality bread baked with the best ingredients fresh from the oven.
In 1956, the Brunellos left Weed and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Later that same year, Paul Brunello opened El Real Bakery in Palo Alto, which offered specialty cakes, Danish pastries, and donuts. Predominantly wholesale, El Real Bakery served several hundred accounts with 36 trucks and maintained a steady crew of approximately 300 employees.
By 1963, Paul enlisted his son, Roger, to join El Real after he graduated from college. Roger had been exposed to the baking industry all his life, having spent much of his childhood helping his father at the bakery after school and during summer breaks. Roger rapidly accustomed to the business of managing bakery operations and after his first year, took over for his father to carry on the family tradition.
In 1971, Roger and Paul merged El Real Bakery with a popular San Francisco bakery, Stemple’s Bakery, creating a larger production capacity and extending their solid customer base from San Jose to San Francisco. In addition to increasing wholesale operations, the merger included five new retail outlets. Through the Stemple’s endeavor, Roger gained valuable experience in baking production methods in a high volume environment that is still used today to manage Le Boulanger’s bakery operation.
After Paul Brunello’s retirement in 1976, Roger carried on the simple foundation of a family tradition he learned as a child in his father’s bakery: the idea of selling freshly baked bread - still warm from the oven - to the public in the manner of the European patisseries and panetterias.
Roger sold Stemple’s in 1977 and ventured with four business partners to create a European baking concept that began San Francisco Boulangerie. Roger’s new bakery initially offered San Francisco sourdough and sweet French breads, and croissants, but customers soon realized the freshly baked bread added a whole new taste to specialty sandwiches, which became a huge success. The innovative baking concept grew to four stores and was later sold to Pepsico in 1980 and renamed La Petite Boulangerie.
Roger and his brother, Dan, began Le Boulanger, Inc. (Luh Boo-lawn-ZHAY), in downtown Los Altos in August 1981 as a tiny, 14-seat café, but they offered delicious sourdough and specialty breads that were unprecedented in the area, setting the stage for Le Boulanger to become the Bay Area’s premier bread bakery
The bakers at Le Boulanger use a century-old method to make their famous sourdough bread that requires a complex and lengthy fermentation process, resulting in the delicate flavor and texture that has led to its reputation of being the best sourdough in the Bay Area. Some of Le Boulanger’s numerous awards include: Grand Prize, Best Sourdough French Bread for three consecutive years at the San Francisco Fair & Exposition, 1983 - 1985.
Today Le Boulanger operates three successful divisions of the company: retail, wholesale, and catering. Le Boulanger’s retail business continues to flourish with 18 locations. Le Boulanger catering continues to fuel the creative minds driving the dot.com industry, providing fresh coffee and sandwiches to countless executive board meetings at businesses throughout the Silicon Valley. Le Boulanger’s wholesale division bakes for country clubs, chain restaurants, colleges, caterers, business and industrial foodservice caterers, airports, stadiums, sports arenas, hotels, independent restaurants, delis and more.
Throughout the years of expansion, Le Boulanger has become widely known for its community efforts sponsoring local fundraisers and donating leftover breads and pastries to local food bank organizations serving the needy and homeless.
Le Boulanger, Inc. is now one of few remaining family-owned and operated businesses. It started on the principals of a family baking tradition, and became the Bay Area’s premier bread bakery through continued family dedication. Le Boulanger is proud to exceed expectations in customer satisfaction and firmly holds its place as the Bay Area’s premier bakery/café.