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A Pandemic Baby: Haight Loaves

When the first lockdown in San Francisco happened in March 2020, chefs and kitchen staff were hit hard. With restaurants closed for an undetermined period of time and no outside dining permitted yet, many folks working in the food industry lost their jobs. At the time, Bostonite Joseph Norton, owner and founder of Haight Loaves, was working at a Michelin star restaurant.

For a change of pace from the stress and hectic energy of an upscale restaurant, Joseph became a baker at Neighbor Bakehouse and his passion for baking bread started to grow. In March of 2020, he was laid off from Neighbor Bakehouse and that’s when he decided to solely focus on baking sourdough bread. He started Haight Loaves, An artisanal bread pop-up in the Lower Haight neighborhood baking and selling fresh boules, pan loafs, and focaccia.

“It started in my apartment on my Ikea table...I started giving my bread to people around me. Then I posted some pictures and things really took off. I think I bit a little more than I could chew.” chuckles Joseph.

Joseph goes on to explain how he went from baking in his kitchen as a passion project to renting the cooking space at Wine Kitchen on Divisadero Street to expand his business. By word of mouth in the community and creating a social media account with an accessible order form, Joseph grew Haight Loaves to be a neighborhood favorite. “I realized my laundry room was not going to be able to support how many orders we were getting so we moved the baking to the Wine Kitchen cooking space. It’s actually a shared space so it’s nice to see the community coming together like this. It’s been a lot of work and sometimes I feel like I haven’t had a break in 9 months but I love it - I’ve always wanted to get into baking bread.” explains Joseph. As I was leaving our interview, Joseph handed me a big sesame loaf and just the symphony of the bread crust cracking got me excited to dig into it later.

Order fresh baked bread, focaccia and sometimes even donuts from Haight Loaves to support the wonderful hard working folks behind this business!

-Valentine Batra

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