Diamond Bakery

Diamond Bakery
Logo of Diamond Bakery
Formation 1945; 77 years ago (1945)
Founders Betty and Jack Segal
Founded at Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, California
Location
Region
Los Angeles area
Owner
  • Brian Hollander
  • Doug Weinstein
Website www.diamondbakeryla.com

Diamond Bakery is a Jewish bakery located on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. Founded in 1946 by Betty and Jack Segal, the bakery was sold to a group of Holocaust survivors in 1969, and sold again to a group of its employees shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, it again came under new ownership after financial trouble during the pandemic led head baker Ramon Luna to consider shutting the bakery down.

In addition to sales of baked goods at its storefront, Diamond Bakery sells wholesale goods to various Jewish delis and synagogues in the Los Angeles area.

History

Establishment

Diamond Bakery was established in 1946 by Betty Segal and Jack Segal,[1] immigrants from Eastern Europe who brought their recipes with them. The bakery's sourdough starter is believed to have been active for more than a century, which would make it older than the bakery itself.[2] The bakery was initially in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, before being moved to Fairfax Avenue, where it remains.[3]

The Lottmans and Rubensteins

In 1969, the Segals sold Diamond Bakery to two couples, the Lottmans and Rubensteins. Both the Lottmans and the Rubensteins were Holocaust survivors; some literature suggests that the couples first met at Auschwitz concentration camp. Mark Lottman, son of the Lottmans involved in the purchase, subsequently managed the bakery.[1]

Sale to employees

Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Lottman sold Diamond Bakery to its longtime head baker Ramon Luna and a group of other employees. The employees pooled their money in order to make the purchase.[1] Luna's son Raymond Luna served as president of the bakery, and before the pandemic purchased the bakery's first card reader and coffee bar as well as installing chalkboard menus.[2] However, the loss of both foot traffic and wholesaling opportunities due to the pandemic forced Luna to consider closing permanently.[1] Hours were cut to avoid layoffs.[2] In July 2020, Diamond Bakery had made baked goods available on various online food ordering platforms and started a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $400,000 to stay open.[4]

Hollander and Weinstein

In early 2021, Brian Hollander and Doug Weinstein drove to Los Angeles from their hometown of Santa Barbara, California, to visit Canter's deli. Hollander and Weinstein, who had become friends while cooking meals for the elderly and baking challah with the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, visited Diamond Bakery after Canter's; the two establishments are located on adjacent blocks. Luna and Weinstein had already met, and Luna gave the two men a tour. They decided to purchase Diamond Bakery before leaving, and began brainstorming a business plan while driving back to Santa Barbara. Weinstein, an experienced pastry chef, became chief operating officer and director of bakery operations, while Hollander became chief operating officer and director of business operations. Hollander also became director of L'Dor V'Dough, the newly established nonprofit arm of the bakery. Luna was named the chief baking officer.[1]

Hollander and Weinstein implemented a profit sharing model in which shares in the bakery are set aside for the employees and pay out in the form of bonus pay and retirement packages, and additionally gave all employees a pay raise.[5] On June 28, 2021, Diamond Bakery held a re-opening event.[1]

Activity

Diamond Bakery supplies breads, bagels, and other baked goods to various Jewish delis in the Los Angeles area, including Nate 'n Al's as well as Greenblatt's prior to its closure, and to synagogues including the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The bakery also sells baked goods at its storefront on Fairfax Avenue, where activity increases on important Jewish holidays.[5]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Wall, Alix (July 7, 2021). "Diamond Bakery's new owners want it to be a force for change—and for great marbled rye". The Forward. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Lelyveld, Nina (August 15, 2020). "A beloved L.A. bakery's fight to survive the coronavirus reminds us to help out places we'd miss". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  3. ^ "Babka and rye: recipes that haven't changed since the 1940s". KCRW. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  4. ^ Elliott, Farley (July 21, 2020). "Fairfax's 74-Year-Old Diamond Bakery Seeks Public Help as Pandemic Struggles Continue". Eater LA. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Elliott, Farley (September 17, 2021). "New Owners of LA's Most Important Jewish Bakery Work to Carry on a 75-Year Legacy". Eater LA. Archived from the original on January 4, 2022. Retrieved January 4, 2022.

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Coordinates: 34°04′38″N 118°21′42″W / 34.07722°N 118.36167°W / 34.07722; -118.36167

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