If you’ve strolled down First Street in the past few months, chances are you’ve spotted the promising sign displayed on a black and white building between J and I Streets: One House Bakery.
Behind the papered windows, a transformation has been taking place, as award-winning pastry chef Hannalee Pervan and her parents, Catherine and Peter, prepare to open a new community hub this summer. “Baking is about making people happy,” says Pervan, who envisions the bakery as a welcoming place where staff know your name and your favorite croissant. “I just want to feed Benicia delicious food and make people happy.”Born and raised in Canada, Pervan relocated to the US to attend Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, where she met her husband. She moved back to Canada to attend Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute, specializing in pastry. In 2010, she won Gold in the baking category of the Skills Canada National Competition.
Returning to the US, Pervan worked with L.A’s Porto’s Bakery, then with Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. There she became part of the bread-making team for several Yountville-area restaurants, including The French Laundry. “I have devoted my life to baking,” she says. “I started in pastry and morphed into bread, so I love making things like mousses but I also love making baguettes.”
Along with sweet treats, One House will feature sandwiches, soups and salads. Baristas will serve coffee drinks with beans from San Francisco-based company Sightglass, and specialty sodas with fresh-fruit syrups made in-house. Savory baking, such as Cuban meat pies and potato cream tarts, will also be offered. With a 40-inch granite mill, all the bakery’s flour will be milled on site, and every item will be created from scratch.
Pervan and her parents visited around 50 Northern California towns searching for the right place to open. “Benicia had that perfect small town feeling,” she says. “Everyone was smiling at you when you walked down the street and it seemed like we could be a part of the community here.”
They took possession of the 3,400 sq. ft. building on November 1, and began demo that day. Pervan’s parents, who built retail spaces in Canada for 30 years, brought their skills to the project, and together with Pervan they undertook much of the renovation themselves. High ceilings, exposed Douglas Fir beams and a brick wall installation give the space an elegant industrial feel, while the mezzanine—set up with couches and throw blankets—invites customers to settle in and stay a while. “You can curl up for a few hours and drink your coffee,” says Pervan.
One House Bakery is seeking passionate, hardworking people to join their team. Pervan hopes to hire veterans in particular, and will provide training for its multiple pastry cook, bread baker, barista and retail positions. “I have always been in awe of veterans’ bravery and sacrifice,” she says. “I knew if I was in the position to make a positive difference in their life, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so. I have so much to teach people, and could help a veteran start a career.” Veterans and other people interested in applying for Bakery positions are encouraged to contact Pervan via phone or email.
One House Bakery aims to expand their 49-seat indoor capacity with sidewalk tables and a rear deck. Other plans include offering craft beer and wine (they are applying for the license), weekend brunch options (think french toast and mimosas), a kid’s section, a bike rack for cyclists and gourmet dog treats for Benicia’s canine residents.
While its opening date is still to be confirmed, One House Bakery already has hundreds of followers on Facebook and Instagram, signaling Benicia is eager to welcome the new business. “We found this building the first day we visited Benicia,” says Pervan. “I knew as soon as I walked in that I was home.”
One House Bakery
918 First Street, Benicia