In opening her Waldscraft Artisan Bakery earlier this month, longtime Mill Valley resident Stacey Waldspurger turned her shot-in-the-dark pandemic project in her home kitchen into a thrilling addition to a community that is steeped in love for baked goods. Waldscraft’s debut at 31 Sunnyside Ave. – the former home of Chris Wanner’s West Coast Wine & Cheese – has added to mouth-watering smells to downtown Mill Valley, as has Karen Fong’s Mill Valley Baking Co. at 17 East Blithedale and Le Marais nearby on Blithedale.
Waldspurger’s launch and those of Mill Valley Baking Co. and Le Marais remind us that, over the years here at Enjoy Mill Valley, we’ve polled the community on what kind of businesses they’d like to see move into recently vacated spaces. The responses are always illuminating. The pandemic has certainly played a role in what’s possible, as it’s become more appealing for businesses to consider moving to communities like Mill Valley given the unfortunate hollowing out of downtown San Francisco.
But through all of our queries and polls over the years, regardless of any other factors, one answer has seemingly always been at the top of the heap: Bakery love runs deep in Mill Valley.
That love has been unrequited at times over the years, despite its renowned history. Famed baker Chad Roberston and pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt started here in 1999 with the aforementioned Bay Village Bakery, closing it in early 2002, later going on to massive acclaim with their Tartine bakery. Beth Setrakian’s eponymous bakery at 34 Miller Ave. was widely loved before she relocated to Bolinas, and there was no shortage of buzz when Pascal Rigo unsuccessfully sought to reopen his renowned La Boulangerie here. Same with the brief but incredibly flavorful run of Bootjack Wood Fired in Ged Robertson’s former Small Shed Flatbreads space, which closed in 2014.
But that downturn of deliciousness in Mill Valley wasn’t built to last. Lovers of delicious breads and cakes and pastries have had lots to choose from in recent years, starting with the opening of Heather Hardcastle’s delightful, gluten-free Flour Craft Bakery in 2018, and subsequent cookbook in 2021.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have our shop open,” Waldspurger says. “We’re here Wednesday to Sunday, 8am-4pm, and we’ll eventually add Tuesday. We’re so excited to be baking and really want people to think of us for special events and cakes and big orders.”
Waldscraft Cottage Bakery serves Oakland-based Bicycle Coffee, which was founded in 2009 in Oakland by three brothers and a cousin—Matthew McKee, Brandon McKee, Cameron McKee, and Brad Butler. The business allowed them “to combine our two loves: bicycles and good coffee.” A portion of all Bicycle Coffee’s sales go to World Bike Relief, an international organization that mobilizes and empowers people through the power of bicycles.
Waldscraft also serves a selection of teas from Silk Road Tea, a Mill Valley-owned company founded by Catherine & Ned Heagerty. “We’re inviting our customers to come by and check out our coffee and tea products,” Waldspurger says.
Waldspurger notes that the the recent arrival of a trio of bakeries in town is nothing but a positive for all, particularly given the distinctions among the three. “I don’t feel competition, I feel like we’re creating a district,” she says. “We’ve noticed that people are doing little walking tours of the local bakeries.
“The thing we hear most from people who have stopped by so far is, ‘I’m so glad you found a home and we love your story of starting in your house and growing within the community,” Waldspurger says. “People really love seeing where we’ve landed coming from a home kitchen in Mill Valley.”Waldspurger credits her team, which includes local resident Debbie Woo, as well as their extremely successful campaign to encourage locals to invest in the business. That effort, backed by 130 investors, blew past its goal of $75,000 to reach $103,000 at the campaign’s end, with funds going toward equipment and tenant improvements.
The bakery is open Wednesday through Sunday, 8am-4pm.