The MGH Report

Michael G. Haran, Proprietor

A Town Treasure on a Bagette

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015

A Town Treasure on a Baguette

 

With all of this ebb and flow on the Seghesio project I thought I’d check in with one of the most respected local merchants in the community, Will Seppi, general manager of the family owned Costeaux French Bakery in downtown Healdsburg.

Seppi #2

Will Seppi

Costeaux has been around for some 92 years, first as the French American Bakery, which was owned by Octavia and Ricardo Cassaza. In 1927 the bakery was sold to J. Sarzotti and A. Viari who featured breads, panettone, pasties and grissini (breadsticks). They delivered twice a week to customers in Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys who would pay after the annual harvest.

From 1930 to 1971 the bakery had several different names and owners including Tom Alexander who changed the name to Alexander’s Modern Bakery. In 1959 the bakery was bought by Fred Loupi (still a Healdsburg resident), who changed the name to, what else, Fred’s Bakery. During Fred’s tenure there was a rumor around town of a bakery truck spinning “donuts” on the plaza lawn but Fred doesn’t know anything about that. In 1972, the bakery was bought by Jean and Annie Costeaux from Reims, France and gave the bakery its current name.

In 1981, the Seppi family bought the bakery and kept the name. Karl and Nancy often visited Nancy’s great aunt, Mary Zandrino, who lived on a ranch in west Dry Creek. It was Mary who knew the bakery was for sale and suggested that Karl and Nancy buy it. Karl, who was a golf pro, was taught how to bake bread by Jean Costeaux. Karl didn’t seem to have much of a handicap switching to the bakery business as Costeaux won the only gold medal for bread at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair that first year and they have been winning gold medals, and even national acclaim, ever since.

Seppi #4

Costeaux

After graduating from Villanova University and a stint in accounting for a Silicon Valley finance company Will took over the business full time in 2004. He and his three sisters (one of which, Karla, along with her husband Rob Lippincott own the popular Healdsburg Parish Cafe) grew up in Healdsburg where Will still lives with his wife Brandy and their three kids ages 3, 2, and 8 months. Under Will the company has kept growing. They now sell their wide assortment of baked good in not only Sonoma County but also in Mendocino, Napa, Marin and San Francisco. They produce from three to five thousand loaves of bread per day which can go to ten thousand or so with special events. Even though they now have over 85 employees (50/50 retail and production) you can still see Will delivering bread to places like Big Johns.

The bakery and restaurant on Healdsburg Avenue is a beautiful facility reminiscent of a French villa. With an eye on ecology Will recently put in solar panels and to save water he put in a brown colored wood floor instead of tile that needed to be mopped daily, also the crumbs blend in better. Their annual events including Bastille Day (the replica guillotine was made for them by Aristocrat Wood Products and Redwood Auto Body) and Christmas Eve celebrations are a lot of fun and Nancy’s spirited homemade eggnog is very popular. Their in house promotions include a December 24th “secret envelope” where you can win a gift certificate, complimentary bread, desserts or cookies and a “coffee coin” can get you a croissant, cookie or loaf of bread.

Seppi #6

Costeaux Interior

But it’s not the in-house promotions that define the Seppi family. When it comes to giving back to the community Will seems to be everywhere. Each year the bakery donates money and products to an astounding 500 community events including Northern County Services, the Healdsburg Senior Center’s Christmas dinner, Redwood Gospel Missions Great Thanksgiving Banquet, FFA and more. They contribute to the KZST Secret Santa Christmas gift program; the Algebra Academy and internship programs at Healdsburg area schools and have sponsored family ESL literacy programs for their employees. And the list goes on and on. The Seppis’ may not be the Triones’ but their philanthropic mind-set sure is.

Seppi #3

Costeaux Solar Installation

So what’s Wills’ take on the Seghesio project? He says that Pete Seghesio, like Will grew up in Healdsburg, and loves the town and community and can understand why Pete was a little shocked at any negative reaction to the project. The business will generate jobs and tax revenue and if the meat market does well it will become a popular local venue not unlike Costeaux. As far as the upscale restaurant goes most locals, even though most couldn’t or wouldn’t spend that kind of money on a restaurant meal, thought it was fun having Cyrus’ in town. It’s like the downtown wine tasting rooms; if there is a demand they will stay in business, if not they’re gone.

But one thing is for sure, the Seghesio have and will give back to the community and, like the Seppis’ they are part of the fabric of the Healdsburg community.

 

 

 

 

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Onward and Upward

Posted by on Mar 5, 2015

February 2, 2015

Kerrie at Mike McGuire’s Swearing in

I don’t know if the announcement of Kerrie Lindecker leaving Sonoma West and the Healdsburg Tribune was more shocking to me or more sad. Kerrie is has been the managing editor for over ten years and it never crossed my mind that she would ever leave. Then again she is such a smart and articulate person that I should have realize that someday a quality opportunity would present itself to her.

I had always wanted to try my hand at being a newspaper columnist but knowing the commitment the profession takes I have just too many other interest to make that work so I through I would try commentary because writing commentary is on the writers time frame and not the publication. So I submitted a letter to the editor about a little Christmas tree that would occasionally light up a local vineyard and low and behold Kerrie published it. This was the first time I ever had anything published in a newspaper.

Kerrie & Ryan

Kerrie and Ryan’s Wedding

From there I went on to writing commentary and Kerrie helped me learn the techniques of developing an interesting story in 800 words or less. I have since written over fifty published commentaries which I archive in my writers blog at MGHReport.com.

I know that over the years many of us in the community have developed our own unique relationships with Karrie. For example, that’s how she got her new position with State Senator Mike McGuire who she has known since his days on the HUSD school board. The following is one of my stories about Kerrie and is from the “Legends and Lies” section of a booklet I wrote on the history of fishing the Healdsburg and Russian River watershed for the Healdsburg Museum:

 

Making a Deadline

Ryan Lindecker

Ryan Landing the steelhead

“One of the joys of living in a small town is that many of the editorials in the local newspaper, stories that would never be allowed in a metropolitan newspaper, are about the interests of the people who work at the paper. A case in point is Healdsburg Tribune’s editor, Kerrie Russell, who often writes about not only her fishing exploits in and around Healdsburg but also her upcoming marriage into a local family of steelhead fishermen. Needing a little more on the feminine side of steelhead fishing, Kerrie was interviewed for this story. It turns out that Kerrie had never caught a steelhead on the Russian River. To propose to her, her fiancé took her to the Smith River where she did catch a steelhead, but still never had on the Russian River. She was informed that this interview was for the upcoming booklet by the Healdsburg Museum for the town’s upcoming steelhead festival and that the deadline for its completion was about a week away. It is not known whether it was Kerrie’s response to a self-induced challenge, or if she is just hardwired to meet a deadline, but she wanted to catch a Russian River steelhead before this booklet had to be completed. Well, lo and behold, a phone call was received that she had, in fact, caught a steelhead while fishing on the river with her fiancé up near Cloverdale. She said that it was a 10 pound wild “buck” that had to be released. She also said that for proof she took photos, but even without photos it would be totally implausible not to believe a member of the press – right?”

Because she will be working out of McGuire’s Santa Rosa office, she says, “I’m not going anywhere,” I’m still going to miss her at the Tribune for my own selfish reasons. When I asked Jim Wood if he had heard the news about Kerrie he replied that Mike McGuire’s a lucky man. So maybe this transition isn’t sad but rather something that should be celebrated as Kerrie moves onward and upward.

Michael Haran Is a Healdsburg resident

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