Uli Elser, owner and founder of Squabisch pretzel bakery, is one step closer to his dream of taking his German bakery from farmers markets to a storefront in Berkeley.
On Thursday, Squabisch pretzel bakery received zoning certificate approval at 1585 Solano Ave. to operate his to-go storefront bakery with an expected opening date of Jan. 1, 2022, according to Elser. The zoning approval will allow Elser to operate and sell his baked pretzels on a strip of restaurants on Solano Avenue, without plans for in-person dining.
“I’ve always liked Solano Avenue,” Elser said. “It’s a great diverse street with a lot of foot traffic and interesting businesses all along it, so it just seems perfect.”
Having grown up in a German household, Elser was inspired by his German dialect, Schwäbisch, for the bakery’s name. He said he followed the footsteps of his mother, who was passionate about German baking and education after his family moved to California.
In 2016, Elser started to cook both German dishes and pretzels commercially using Josephine, a virtual platform that connected customers directly to home chefs.
As customers increased, Elser expanded to selling food at weekly farmers markets in the Bay Area. According to Elser, local farmers markets require sellers to show proof of preparation outside of the home, which caused him to search for new spaces to bake.
He discovered the Berkeley-based nonprofit The Bread Project where he now rents industrial ovens on nights and weekends. However, once he began baking full time, Elser needed more space to run his operations.
“It was kind of limiting,” Elser said. “That’s why I’ve always wanted to have my own bakery, and then this place on Solano opened up and everything just seemed to line up. It’s finally a place where I can bake whenever I want.”
At the new storefront, Squabisch pretzel bakery will be able to offer its 60 unique pretzel flavor combinations and shape designs. Asiago prosciutto, ricotta apricot, Chevra sesame seed honey, chocolate coconut, chocolate and cherry are among the flavor combinations that Elser attributes to his bakery’s success.
The bakery also offers limited designs for various national holidays, which Elser said draws more customers.
Squabisch pretzel bakery currently sells at Oktoberfest events, weddings, pop-up events and breweries in the Bay Area, according to Elser. The bakery also continues to offer its unique pretzels from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays at Grand Lake Farmers Market in Oakland and Sundays at Kensington Farmers Market in Kensington.
Before the storefront’s grand opening, Elser hopes to purchase more baking equipment and enter his bakery’s products into wholesale markets.
“I am very excited about opening up on Solano and providing the community and the greater Bay Area with great family recipes, great pretzels and creative fun toppings and varieties,” Elser said.