Case Study: Alvarado Street Bakery

Alvarado Street grows from “Food for People not for Profit” movement to become one of the largest worker owned companies in the food insustry.

Alvarado Street Bakery is a global supplier of certified whole grain breads and bagels, which are made with natural wheat. Alvarado started producing whole grain organic baked goods for the local community in 1979, with roots tracing back to the “Food for People, not for Profit” movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

In 1981, five workers from the "Food for People, not for Profit" group decided to form a worker cooperative. They purchased the bakery and formed a Bakery Food Cooperative naming the business Alvarado Street Bakery. During the next 20 years Alvarado grew their company at a steady pace as it produced its breads in various rental buildings in Sonoma County, California.

Alvarado Street Bakery
Alvarado Street Bakery

By 2005, Alvarado was in need of a new manufacuring and distribution facility for its growing operations. Requirements for this new facility included (1) the need to remain in Sonoma County, where the Alvarado's employees/owners lived, (2) monthly payments on the new facility had to be low enough so as not to negatively impact the earnings of the cooperative members, and (3) a facility needed to be found that could be purchased rather than leased, to allow Alvarado to take advantage of favorable Industrial Revenue Bonds financing, available only if they owned their own facility. 

When Mark Levin, Vice President of Voit Real Estate Services - Cypress Food Group, was made aware of Alavardo's requirement, he knew that there were not many exisitng buildings that could meet all of Alvarado's objectives. And as the company explored build-to-suit options, it became clear to Mark that the cost of a new building would be too expensive to fall within Alvarado's financial parameters. 

At the time, Mark was marketing a 75,000 SF space for lease in a 235,000 SF building, which was ideal for Alvarado in every way, except that it was not for sale. With Mark's experience in developing commercial condominiums, he suggested to Alvarado that he could convert the larger building into three separate ownership parcels, which would allow Alvarado to pruchase the 75,000 SF and take advantage of the favorable Industrial Revenue Bond financing. 

Within ten months of the decision to proceed, both the condominum approvals and the Industrial Revenue Bond financing were in place, allowing Alvarado to complete the acquisition and move into their new facility in the summer of 2007. (Alvarado's workers in the new facility are featured in Michael Moore's 2009 movie "Capitalism - A Love Story").

Currently, Alvarado employs over 100 people and has worldwide distribution for its more than 30 different organic baked products.The dedication of Alvardo's workers past and present to make the highest quality organic baked goods anywhere continues to be the force behind the company.  Alvarado's motto remains  "We are changing the way the world eats -- one slice at a time".