It all started in the lower Haight.

Gemma Edward Aron met Nicola Carey through friends in the neighborhood – let’s call it a third-degree connection.

Aron and Carey hit it off, and after spit-balling on a few, fun possible collaborations, the friendship eventually morphed into a business partnership centered around bread making and recipes. 

“An amateur and a professional baker began dreaming up a space for our community of friends and family, a place to share what we love to make most,” Aron says. “We want to create something in our small town that provides not only incredible bread and pastries, but that also serves as a gathering space to share and celebrate.”

With the arrival of Madrona Bakery at 17 Madrona St. in downtown Mill Valley, a small town that lacked a single bakery only a few years ago has yet another, each with its own distinct flavor and style.

Carey’s breads and croissants are already the stuff of legend among those who make the trek to Madrona, and the duo has hired barista Gabriel Pizon from Bernal Heights to lead the Four Barrel-centric coffee program.

The duo also got some high-minded, lazer-sharp insight from someone who knows a thing or two about the 17 Madrona space: Ged Robertson, whose iterations in that space span Small Shed Flatbreads, the late Todd Shoberg’s revered Molina restaurant, and briefly Pizza Molina. “Listen to your customers then listen to yourselves again,” Robertson told them. “And be your last advisor in the room.”

When Aron and Carey inquired about the space after Bootjack closed, he provided some sage advice about the history of the space and, most importantly, gave them crucial insight.

“Ged has been supportive and helpful in a way that was above and beyond what he needed to be – there were definitely times when he could have been less helpful,” Aron says. “This property was so personal to him.”

Madrona joins Stacey Waldspurger’s Waldscraft Artisan Bakery on Sunnyside Ave., Karen Fong’s Mill Valley Baking Co. at 17 East Blithedale and Le Marais nearby on East Blithedale.

But while we all get to bask in the amazing flavors and the respective diversity of styles of each bakery, Carey and Aron are focused on something with an impact beyond the deliciousness.

“We really want to showcase friends who have skills,” Aron says. “That means rotating art, bringing in chefs that don’t have their own brick-and-mortar business, a retail section with things like cutting boards, ceramics, art and classes that will include projects like pizza-making and seasonal classes like wreath-making, ginger bread.


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