Companion found a permanent home in 2010, on the Westside, where Lampel lived with her husband Jeremy, who co-manages the shop. “The Westside… had been our home for a while and all of our friends and family lived [there] at the time,” she says. “We really wanted to find a place close to home where we felt like we knew the neighborhood we would be working with.”
She describes the shop’s location at that time as “pretty bleak,” with few other businesses in the area. But Companion persevered, and the community began to gather around the bakery like a hearth, with loyal customers lining up every day for fragrant, naturally-leavened loaves, crusty baguettes, flakey sweet & savory pastries, and seasonal pies.
While there are other bakeries in town -- the aforementioned Kelly’s French Bakery is a couple blocks away -- Companion’s products stand out. Unlike most commercial bakers, Lampel eschews leavening her loaves with dehydrated yeast in favor of sourdough starter whenever possible. This traditional baking method preserves the nutritive qualities of the organic grain and gives the bread a complex flavor and texture.
Lampel also learned the value of supporting local farms through acquiring her degree in agriculture & fruit sciences from California Polytechnic State University and her experience working as a farmer and baker at farms in California and Hawaii. She incorporates small farmers’ products into her baked goods to create seasonal treats such as peach galettes, dry-farmed tomato & caramelized onion tarts, and feta & fennel sourdough croissants. Since opening shop seven years ago, the business has grown from two people to 20 employees.
“A characteristic that Companion has taught us over the years has been to work really hard at what we are good at and to stay focused, realizing that our goals as a team are going to happen when we do what we do best,” Lampel says. “The more we focus in on baking and community, the healthier our bakeshop seems to be.”