Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.
Everyone in the Bay Area has heard of Boudin, and the chain bakery now has over 25 locations throughout California. But the company dates all the way back to the Gold Rush and a tiny shop in North Beach. Some say it may even be the oldest business in the city (an honor shared with the Tadich Grill, which also opened in 1849).
Boudin got its start during the Gold Rush, when Isidore Boudin, son of a family of master bakers from Burgundy, France, started baking bread in 1849 with a sourdough yeast coupled with French techniques. The Gold Rush boom made the bakery a huge success, and soon Boudin opened a shop at 319 Dupont (now Grant Ave) in 1852. Instead of using packaged yeast like other bakeries, Boudin captured natural yeast found in the air for his "mother dough," and SF's famous fog produced a different type making the bread slightly sour and chewy.
By 1890, the bakery was so successful it moved to a larger location on 815 Broadway. When the 1906 Earthquake and Fire struck, Boudin's wife Louise rescued a batch of mother dough in a bucket, later reopening the bakery on 10th and Geary in the undamaged Richmond district, where it's still located today. The Boudin mother dough has survived since then, and is still used in every loaf baked today.
Through the 1930s business flourished (they even got Ansel Adams to do commercial portraits of the bakery and bread). By 1941, the company was bought by its master baker Steve Giraudo. They kept the bakery going at its current location, but by 1975 opened the first retail location at Fisherman's Wharf. After a brief stint under a corporate food company, the bakery is once again owned by the Giraudo family.
· Secret San Francisco: Boudin's 160-Year-Old Mother Dough [7x7]
· BOUDIN BAKERY: AN ANECDOTAL CHRONOLOGY [Boudin]
· A slice of history returns to S.F. / Boudin Bakery back in the hands of Giraudo family [SF Gate]
· A History Of Boudin Bakery: Or, Why It's Good To Save Your Dough [Nob Hill Gazette]