New, local owners in downtown Tomales

David Briggs
The downtown bakery in Tomales opened its doors last weekend as Route One Bakery and Kitchen, under the new ownership of Shannon Gregory. Mr. Gregory, who owns the Marshall Store, moved to Tomales three years ago and hopes to breathe new life into the bakery—and the town. The business will be open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, and will newly offer pizza and bread.  

The 101-year-old Piezzi Building, which houses Tomales’s deli and bakery and was once the site of an automobile shop, has sold to the owners of Toluma Farms. 

Shannon Gregory, the owner of the Marshall Store, took over the lease from Tomales Bakery, where he reopened with coffee last week as Route One Bakery and Kitchen; the deli remains under the same ownership. 

Tamara Hicks and her husband, David Jablons, of Toluma Farms became interested in the building because the property includes a house where their head cheesemaker lived. The 160-acre ranch employs about 10 people in Tomales, where they make sheep and goat cheese and offer educational tours; the cheese is sold at dozens of restaurants and markets, including at their joint venture creamery and bagel shop in San Francisco. 

Ms. Hicks said, “I think all of us out here that are employing people know we can get amazing people, but we can’t always get the amazing people places to live that are affordable.” 

Their $1.7 million purchase from Tal Roseberry, a local contractor who owned the building for 16 years, includes a two-bedroom house and the 5,800-square-foot building. 

Beyond the deli and the bakery, the building—which celebrated its centennial last year—includes an upstairs apartment, a vacant retail space and a garage. 

Built in 1919 by Swiss businessman Silvio Piezzi, it served as the town’s second auto repair shop and displayed new cars. According to the Tomales Regional History Center, it housed a generator that powered the town from 1921 until Pacific Gas & Electric strung power lines in 1927. Its pressed metal siding was originally used for a temporary post-earthquake cottage in San Francisco. 

After Mr. Piezzi died, the next owner moved the walls to create an open corner, where he installed two gas pumps. 

For a time in the 1950s, the Tomales fire truck was regularly housed inside the shop. By the 1980s, the building no longer served automobiles, and interior walls were added to accommodate the businesses. 

“It’s just an amazing building that’s been such an integral part of the town for so long,” Ms. Hicks said. “So like the farm, yes, we’re paying the mortgage, and yes, we put money down, but we feel like we are stewarding and that it is the town’s building.” 

Ms. Hicks and Mr. Jablons, self-described gearheads, will work on their vintage cars, mostly old Fords, in the garage. 

The second room of the deli, which has extra seating, could eventually be used to display Toluma Farms cheese as it ages or for cheese tastings, Ms. Hicks said. And once the upstairs apartment is renovated, it will house another employee. Already, the farm manager moved into the house with her two sons. 

In the bakery, Mr. Gregory kept the same staff and plans to add pizza to the menu after upgrading equipment. The Marshall Store spends about $65,000 to purchase bread from Penngrove each year; now he plans to supply himself. 

“If we can centralize our energy in one area, it might free us up to do other things,” he said.