A year ago, the Bear Claw Bakery in downtown Pinole was on the verge of closing.
The economic recession and the need to upgrade the facility were becoming too much to bear financially.
That’s when a group of citizens stepped in to help save the local institution.
They raised money, donated labor and helped remodel the small pastry shop and get it back on its feet.
The shop is doing better now, so this fall, the bakery’s owners, Michael and Terri Stott, want to pay the community back.
They’re donating 50 cents for every buttermilk coffee cake they sell as well as 50 cents for every pound of coffee purchased to local community organizations.
“We’ve always been a community-based business,” said Terri Stott. “But we wanted to give back and we thought there wasn’t a better way than this.”
The origins of the bakery go back to Terri Stott’s grandfather, Albert Hoeffer, who opened a bakery at 4th and MacDonald in Richmond in 1912.
His son, Ben, worked in the bakery alongside his father and took over the family business in 1962.
In 1975, the bakery closed. In 1982, Ben’s daughter, Terri, and her husband, Michael, decided to open the Bear Claw in downtown Pinole.
At the time, Michael Stott was working at the Bio-Rad labs in Hercules but was looking for a change of pace.
“He wanted to be self-employed,” said Terri Stott.
She liked the idea because of the creativity a bakery provides and the flexibility in schedule owning a business offers.
The couple’s four children -- Luke, 32, J.J., 30, Lucie, 25, and Gracie, 15 -- have helped out in the bakery over the years.
J.J. Stott has just returned to his hometown from Humboldt County with his wife and child. He’ll be teaching a math lab in a corner of the bakery, but he’s also cooking things up in the kitchen as a chef.
J.J. helped create the bakery’s latest offerings, a variety of paninis and fruit-filled cro-doughs, a cross between a croissant and a doughnut.
In addition to the fundraising, the Stotts employ two young adults who are participating in a transitional job program.
The couple also hopes to eventually expand their fundraising into the wholesale market, where a non-profit group will sell their products and keep 25 percent of the proceeds.