Berkeley restaurants

Zoning Certificate Approved for Squabisch Pretzel Bakery

Uli Elser, owner and founder of pretzel bakery Squabisch, takes one step closer to his dream of taking his German bakery from farmers’ markets to a storefront in Berkeley.

The Squabisch pretzel bakery received zoning certificate approval at 1585 Solano Avenue on Thursday to operate its take-out bakery with a scheduled opening date of Jan. 1, 2022, according to Elser. The zoning approval will allow Elser to operate and sell his baked pretzels at a strip of restaurants on Solano Avenue, without planning to dine in person.

“I’ve always loved Solano Avenue,” Elser said. “It’s a very diverse street with a lot of foot traffic and interesting businesses throughout, so it just looks perfect.”

Growing up in a German household, Elser was inspired by his German dialect, Schwäbisch, for the name of the bakery. He said he followed in his mother’s footsteps, who was passionate about German baking and education after her family moved to California.

In 2016, Elser started cooking both German dishes and pretzels using Josephine, a virtual platform that directly connected customers to home chefs.

As the number of customers grew, Elser expanded into selling food at weekly Bay Area Farmers’ Markets. According to Elser, local farmers’ markets require vendors to show proof of readiness outside the home, which has led him to seek out new spaces to cook.

He discovered the Berkeley-based nonprofit The Bread Project, where he now rents industrial ovens at night and on weekends. However, once he started cooking full time, Elser needed more space to run his operations.

“It was a bit limiting,” Elser said. “That’s why I always wanted to have my own bakery, then this place on Solano opened up and it all seemed to line up. It’s finally a place where I can cook whenever I want.

In the new showcase, the Squabisch pretzel bakery will be able to offer its 60 unique combinations of pretzel flavors and shapes. Asiago prosciutto, ricotta apricot, Chevra sesame seed honey, chocolate coconut, chocolate and cherry are some of the flavor combinations Elser attributes to the success of his bakery.

The bakery also offers limited models for various national holidays, which Elser says attracts more customers.

The 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. on Saturdays at the Grand Lake Farmers Market in Oakland and on Sundays at the Kensington Farmers Market in Kensington.

Before the storefront opens, Elser hopes to buy more bakery equipment and bring his bakery products to wholesale markets.

“I am very excited to open up to Solano and provide the community and the Greater Bay Area with great family recipes, great pretzels, and creative and fun toppings and varieties,” said Elser said.

Lily Button is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @ lilybutton27.



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