Self-described “girl boss bakery” Butter & Crumble is opening its own brick-and-mortar space Wednesday after three successful years of pop-ups in San Francisco’s Marina District. For young baker Sophie Smith, the move to North Beach feels like fate.
Formerly the cooking school Tante Marie’s, the Francisco Street location is where Smith’s mother—who taught her to bake—learned to cook. The building stood vacant for years until Smith and her buttercream cakes, pistachio cardamom croissants and pumpkin cruffins moved in.
“The neighbors are so grateful to have a business back in here again,” Smith said.
Smith has kept elements of the former cooking school: wooden cooking surfaces, an oversized whisk hanging above the entrance and a demonstration mirror suspended above the front counter.
Yet the 27-year-old baker has added plenty of her own touches. She’s curated a selection of artisanal goods, including four versions of Butter & Crumble tote bags by local designers, lots of greenery courtesy of That SF Plant Guy and flowers by Urban Virgo in a space dominated with the pale pink of employees’ aprons.
Smith honed her skills during the pandemic, at first baking only for family and friends.
Covid “gave a lot of cooks and pastry chefs time to develop their craft,” she said. “It’s both a blessing and a curse.”
She sold her pastries at weekend pop-ups that garnered round-the-block lines on Saturdays and Sundays, using empty kitchen spaces to up her production—including a partnership with the Marina bar Westwood.
While she got her start with buttercream cakes—the logo of Butter & Crumble is a layer cake—she soon added pastries to her repertoire. Some of her most popular items include a croissant rolled up with bacon, a soft egg and herbs and her pistachio cardamom croissants.
On Tuesday morning, contractors took care of the final touches before permitting inspectors arrived. Smith and fellow bakers Nicki Volante and Melissa Nuñez bustled about the kitchen, testing chai-scented buns and sugar syrups.
The next creation? A new croissant that includes mortadella, Gruyère and pistachio pesto.
“It’s an ode to our new North Beach home,” Smith said.
Julie Zigoris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org