stories by joe rosato jr

Bernal Heights Couple Launch Homefront Bakery With a Touch of Creativity

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Bernal Heights couple has become the official breadwinners of their neighborhood, after turning their front yard into a bakery pickup for their home baked country bread loaves, cinnamon rolls and cookies. 

Ryan Skaggs and his fiancee Daniella Banchero, two professional chefs, began filling the hours of their stay-at-home quarantine by baking loaves of bread and giving them to neighbors. Inspired by the enthusiastic response — and a growing pile of bills — they began 

In an effort to maintain a social distance from their customers, they installed a pulley system with a basket to lower their goods the ten foot drop from their front yard. A neighbor who was home from his construction job welded the pulley system together. 

“I just joke around with Danielle all the time,” Skaggs said, “just wondering if people come to get the bread and the pastries or to get products out of the basket.” 

Joe Rosato Jr./NBC Bay Area
Chefs Ryan Skaggs and Daniella Banchero of Bernal Bakery demonstrate their pulley system for lowering bread loaves and baked goods to customers. (May 7, 2020)

Though the novelty of the pulley system is a signature attraction, the bread and pastries themselves have become the showstoppers. The couple is currently selling out a week in advance and on Thursday moved from taking orders over Instagram to their own website at Bernalbakery.com 

“This is the career we loved,” said Banchero. “To be able to share it with a close-knit community has been very rewarding for us.” 

The bakery charges $9 for a fresh country loaf, which may seem pricey compared to a loaf of Wonder Bread but on par with an artisan creation offered in the middle of a neighborhood. 

“We started at $7,” said Skaggs, “but we got that first electric bill and quickly realized why people charge $12 for a loaf of bread.” 

The bread has done wonders for spirits in the neighborhood — though maybe a tad much for waistlines. 

“I think we’ve probably collectively as a family gained about 10 pounds just because of bread consumption,” said neighbor Cindy Richter. “But also it’s been like the shining light in the neighborhood.” 

With the success of their pop-up bakery, Skaggs and Banchero have begun mulling the possibility of eventually opening their own brick and mortar bakery. But like most things during the pandemic, everything is day-by-day. 

In the meantime they’ve begun reporting to their respective restaurant jobs part-time to begin preparing to reopen — once state and local officials issue the all-clear. Skaggs said the bakery has filed all the paperwork to go legit, and will soon be moving the baking to a commissary kitchen. 

For now, they’re enjoying the frenetic pace of baking for an appreciative, if not somewhat captive audience. 

“It’s just great to see little kids jump up and down and put their arms up,” Skaggs said, “and just watch the basket come down from the sky.”

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