Larraburu sourdough French bread : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Up to about 25-30 years ago, there were two major sourdough French bread bakeries in San Francisco, Parisian and Larraburu. San Franciscans were polarized over them. They weren't "interchangeable". They had distinctive flavors and both started during the gold rush, using starters or "mothers" that at that point were over 100 years old. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough business for both, and Parisian had better marketing, so Larraburu vanished.

However, the owners of Larraburu, ever hopeful that some day the brand could be resurrected, saved several batches of the starter and froze them. The batches were stored in at least two public cold storage warehouses in the city. I know that for certain, as at that time I ran Merchants Ice & Cold Storage, and had one of those batches in one of our freezers.

Does anyone know if any of the batches survived and who has custody of them?

-- Jonathan Sapp (, March 30, 2003


I have heard that SF Baking Co (Parisian, Colombo, Toscano) when it was owned by the Giraudo family bought the Larraburu starter and name. SF Baking was then sold to Specialty Foods and then to Interstate Baking (Wonder Bread, etc,). I think that the Giraudo's still own Boudin. It's been hard track on the net so I can't vouch for all of this. There were a few other brands that have also disappeared including Pisano and Baroni. Larraburu went out of business after losing a lawsuit arising from a delivery truck accident.

-- Don Martinich (, April 01, 2003.

About that truck accident: The reason the company went out of business is SOMEBODY forgot to buy liability insurance. Settling the claim sans funds was what bankrupted the company.

-- Rosa (, April 02, 2003.

I wanted to add more information to Rosa's correct answer. I think it was in the '70s when a woman found (bit into the bread and found) a straight pin in the bread and sued the company. The company wanted to make restitution to the woman, paying any of her medical expenses, etd. But she refused. In my opinion, she was more interested in the money to be taken from the company, which eventually bankrupted it.

-- Bill Myrons (, October 06, 2003.

I feasted on Larraburu sourdough bread regularly while living on and off in the Bay area in the 1970's. I will never forget the commotion in Coco's restaurant in Pleasant Hill one Sat. morning (1976?)when the headlines of the Chronicle stated Larraburu filed for BK. It was as though war had been declared. Make no mistake. I can personally vouch for the fact that there was not a time when the batard I purchased - whether in the Marina area, Walnut Creek, or San Anselmo was not still warm and fresh, except Wednesdays when the Bakery was closed. Marketing skills were second only to the product they produced. The delivery truck accidently ran over a child while backing up out of a driveway. The company had $750k in liability insurance, well below the threshold of the damage award. Curiously enough, the same thing happened to LA based Helms Bakery (1950's. Neat Helms panel trucks would cruise the neighborhoods, stop, whild the driver opened the rear panel doors to produce wonderful stained wooden drawers filled with baked goods. Today I bake sourdough at home from Nancy Silvertons recipe for sourdough bread, and read about bread baking techniques Steve Sulllivan, owner of the Acme Bread Co. in Berkeley shares with enthusiasts. Strangely enough, tho, nothing ever matched the heavenly experience of tearing apart and consuming a loaf of Larraburu French Bread 27 years ago. It was as if I had lost something cherished, never to be recovered. Is there anyone who van lead me to the owner, trustee of the original recipe and perhaps even the starter of the Larraburu French Bread? God Bless all of you Sourdough Bread (the real stuff) Lovers.

-- Bill Stockmar (, October 09, 2003.

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-- Bill Stockmar (, October 09, 2003.

I actually witnessed the accident that caused the bakery to go out of buisiness. The truck was going down the street infront of our house on 2nd ave between Balboa and Cabrillo. It struck a small black child named Demeatrius or as we called him Meaty. He lived but ended up being blinded. They sued and the company had no liability insurance and went bankrupt. They stayed at that house. He had an older brother and some sisters. They bought the kids a bunch of toys. The older kid would break his and take Meaty's. we used to play with his "Beep" ball.

-- Bill Haines (, April 23, 2004.

Looking for as much information on Larraburu as I can find, strictly for historical purposes. Appreciate what I've read on the site so far. Feel free to contact me if any of you have more updated information, including how to contact any relatives of the owners.

Thanks so much, Bruce Grimes

-- Bruce Grimes (, November 03, 2004.

Larraburu was a table bread for us when I was growing up. We lived 500 miles away from the bakery, however My father made bi monthly trips to SFO....Upon his return there would always be the best bread ever created..I have been told that there was starter frozen and put away....

-- Greg Miley (, December 05, 2004.

Does anyone know the year the bread truck accident occurred? I lived at 2nd and Cabrillo while I was attending the University of San Francisco and had heard that it happened near there. As I understand it, all those wonderful ovens were dismantled. I am in the Seattle area now and we have some good artisan breads here and the La Brea bakery does a decent job with their breads, but nothing will compare with tearing off a piece of fresh Larraburu Bros bread and enjoying it with wine and cheese back in the summer of '71

-- Chris Shean (, March 02, 2005.

When I was a kid in my teens in the 40s at 39th and Balboa, there was a kid a little older then me who lived at 37th and Balboa and his name was Don Potter. I do believe he married one of or THE doughter of Larraburu and was working for them and was living in or a tad beyond Daly city, Skyline Area????? and had horses. I remember him saying at one time, that he fed his horses some of the older bread that was retured because it had been on the shelf to long.

-- DAN HASTINGS (, March 02, 2005.

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