the best reality show not on the food network
(read these in order for maximum impact…)
Breadness Blog, episode 5 ~ “Cleared for Takeoff…”
If the drama of our earlier episodes had any lasting effect, it was that I had overcome these very challenging obstacles and was learning important lessons that could only help me as I moved forward on this journey. Ordering, receiving and installing equipment is one thing. Getting the blessings of the city and county to open our doors is quite another.
I do believe there are guardian angels who want to see Breadness open in our community and they are certainly present in this next story…
On a Monday, mid May, I was at the “shop” (this bakery) working on a project (there are hundreds of projects to complete when opening a retail food facility like this) and I had the front and back doors open to let the breeze flow through. (The distance between the front and back doors is 53 feet; the width of this space is a bit under 12 feet.)
Magnolia Park is a great neighborhood in Burbank and people walk by (or roll by) all the time. On this particular early evening, I noticed a family walking by with their two dogs, one of which poked its nose in the doorway inquisitively. I said hello to the dog and the family kept walking.
Later in the week it was time for me to submit my tax permit application to the City of Burbank. I contacted that department via e-mail and soon was corresponding with a person (we’ll call her Brianna but that’s not her/his real name) who answered my questions and told me how to submit the completed application. On Thursday afternoon I delivered the paperwork to the city office and let Brianna know I had done so. She e-mailed me back on Friday letting me know she had received my message.
Then a very interesting thing happened… she e-mailed me that she had seen me earlier in the week when she was walking her dogs in front of our store and one of them poked his/her nose inside!
I wrote her back that indeed, it was me she saw and that I remembered her dog (though I didn’t see the family as they had already passed the door). I included in my reply to her, a photo and the story of our dog Shadow who left us in January of 2020.
On Monday, Brianna e-mailed me that she received the application and would let me know later in the week how long it was going to take to get the permit. (She had earlier mentioned the process would take about 4 weeks.) By Friday I still hadn’t heard from her so I figured I’d find out after the weekend.
But Friday evening I received an e-mail from Brianna stating my permit was approved, a PDF document of the permit was enclosed, and that the hard copy was being mailed to me!
I’ve since framed the permit and, like it says on the document, have it “displayed conspicuously” on the wall. (The Burbank permit is the wood frame on the right.)
Now that we had the blessing of the city to do business, we needed the approval of the LA County Health Department to operate the bakery. I called the local office (which is right down the street from the bakery) and spoke with a staff member who asked me some questions. Again, the angels were watching over me; if certain criteria weren’t met, I’d have to start from scratch with the county office, which would take several weeks and cost who knows how much money. But having answered the questions to the satisfaction of the county official, it was now time to schedule a Site Evaluation Inspection.
The purpose of the Site Evaluation is the make sure the new business owner is not changing the existing business too far beyond what it had previously been. For instance, if I took over the bakery and changed it to a bar-b-que joint, that wouldn’t fly. But this place was already a bakery (and ice cream shop) and the new equipment I brought in was very similar to the old equipment the previous owner had with the exception of we don’t have an ice cream maker, our mixer is a bit bigger and our oven is different than the one she used to make pies and cookies (see earlier Breadness Blog episodes).
The inspector contacted me shortly after I completed my conversation with the local office and we scheduled the inspection for 9 p.m. that night! (It’s common for health department inspectors to work at night as that’s when most restaurants and bars are open.) The inspector walked around looking the place over, noting the equipment, asking me questions and taking a photo here and there. There was some question about the new oven and the pre-existing hood above it, and a photo was taken to send to a higher official for the okay. The official texted back within minutes that it would not be a problem.
My inspector was impressed at how clean and organized our place was and said there shouldn’t be any problem in getting our health permit, and that within a day I’d be sent the necessary documents to complete and send back to the department (including proof of having completed an approved Food Production Manager course, which, incidentally, I had completed in January 2019 and can be seen in the above photo lower left). I’ll bet you can guess how I was feeling right about then… 🙂
Within a few days I had completed the health department paperwork, got a resale certificate added to our account with our new address (see above photo with the green cert and the first money given to us by the guy who told me about this place, Mark Schwartz), and got verbal okay from the health department supervisor to open Random Acts of Breadness while our paperwork was processed in advance of the forthcoming health inspection which will result in our shop being given a “letter grade” to display in the window! (Was that a long sentence or what?!?)
So… with tax permit, resale certificate and health department okay, I proceeded to have a sign made that I could display in our front window for all the world (or at least the fine residents of Magnolia Park/Burbank) to see…
At some point the Quenelle sign will come down and we’ll put a new sign up in its place. But for now, there’s lots more to do before we’re ready to open officially. The plan is to have a “soft opening” next weekend with invitations being delivered to local residents within walking distance of the bakery, inviting them to come by and get a free slice of Breadness. Of course, you, being a member of the Breadness Buzz VIP club, are welcome to come by as well.
Saturday, June 26th and Sunday June 27th from 2 to 6 p.m.
Random Acts of Breadness, 2214 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank CA 91506.
Phone: 818-562-7303 (would you believe that’s only one digit off from being 818-56-BREAD?!?
As Maxwell Smart would say: “Missed it by that much…”)
So is this the end of the Breadness Blog and our gripping adventures? Not at all! There’s lots more to share as we move forward in our quest to lift the hearts and spirits of the Burbank/Toluca Lake community through the vision that came to me back in December 2016 (“I wonder if I could make a healthy sourdough bread that would be good enough to give as gifts for the holidays?”), and which is now manifest as this unique micro-bakery and bread gift service in the heart of the city I’ve called home for more than 39 years.
Randall Michael Tobin