More than a decade after Otto’s closed its doors, San Francisco Street Bakery has a new downtown outpost.
This one, Schwartz’s, is located at Fourth and Washington, in the same building as the eatery still fondly remembered by longtime Olympia foodies, and like its long-ago sibling, it has all of the bakery’s goods.
The bagels that were Otto’s mainstay are displayed on wooden posts on the wall and can be served up plain, as piled-high sandwiches and every way in between. The cases are filled with cakes, cookies and croissants. Baguettes and breads beckon.
In other words, everything the Otto family has been serving up on the east side for the past 30 years is there at Schwartz’s.
But who the heck is Schwartz, longtime South Sounders are doubtless wondering.
Jeremy Schwartz is the son-in-law of bakery founders Gene and Judi Otto, who have passed along most of their business responsibilities to the next generation — son Nolan Otto, daughter Carmen Otto and Schwartz, Carmen’s husband.
The family chose the name “Schwartz” in part to avoid disappointment from those who’d been hearing rumors of Otto’s return and whose mouths might have been watering at the memory of lengthy brunches with numerous egg dishes and sautéed tofu and vegetable stir-fry.
“We didn’t want to call it Otto’s and get people’s hopes up,” Schwartz told The Olympian. “We can’t get space in there to cook anything.”
Some people’s hopes were up, it’s safe to say. Still, there’s a sense that the Otto family bakery dynasty has come full circle — just like a bagel.
Otto’s closed up shop in 2008, not long after Gene and Judi sold the business.
“We had been running it for I think 12 years, and we were tired,” Gene Otto told The Olympian. “We didn’t want to run it anymore. We found a buyer, but … it didn’t last a year.”
The Ottos sold the business, but they still own the Boardman building in which it was located. Otto’s was at 111 Washington St. NE, in space that’s now part of The Society nightclub. Schwartz’s opened last month at 124 Fourth Ave. E., in the space formerly occupied by Caffe Vita, which closed in 2017.
The time was right for a downtown location, Schwartz and Otto said. For one thing, Bagel Brothers closed its only Olympia store around the same time as Caffe Vita.
“As soon as that closed, our bagel production had to go up,” Schwartz said. “It was noticeable right away. And there was nowhere that I could think of to get a bagel downtown.”
“We wanted to have a presence downtown,” Gene Otto said. “We love downtown Olympia, and we’re excited about the new construction. Judi and I always thought it would be great if there was more housing downtown of all kinds, and we’re excited to be back downtown and be part of that.
“The more places you have to enjoy downtown, the more people will come down there.”
- What: San Francisco Street Bakery’s new downtown outpost.
- When: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
- Where: 124 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia
- More information: 360-688-1853, sfsbakery.com