How Berkeley’s Acme Bread Started A Bay Area Bread Movement

It’s nighttime on a quiet corner in North Berkeley and most of the traffic that passes through on the usually-busy San Pablo Avenue has slowed to nonexistent.

Long after the nearby businesses have closed, a flurry of activity is continuing at the corner of Cedar Street and San Pablo Avenue and, really, never stops. The night crew of Acme Bakery is carrying on with its breadmaking long into the night, a 24-hour operation that continues both at this original location of the Berkeley-based company, as well as three other designated Acme baking locations in the Bay Area.

Armando Castillo and two other bakers are moving about in a constant dance around inside the Acme space, with Top 40 music keeping them moving. The bread oven is constantly baking and the oven — and carefully set bakery thermostat — keeps the space cozy at a toasty 75 degrees, the team rotating between a series of jobs. Enormous mixers mix, bakers weigh out the dough, keeping the blobby masses at the ready for its turn in the oven, pushing the bread out onto racks when the oven timer beeps turn insistent.

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