The bakery was started in September 2003 as a partnership between two young biologists Robin Bolser and Brooke Yarnell. They met while working on stream water quality at a research facility just south of Mammoth Lakes, CA. As they sat at their microscopes, they would talk about how great it would be to have a bakery that allowed them to pursue their passion for baking. After researching the potential market for a coffeeshop/bakery in Bishop, CA, they decided to go for it, despite having very little knowledge of the baking industry and having very little money. They found a low-rent, old garage on the south end of town that needed a lot of TLC. Within 3 months, Robin, Brooke and Robin’s husband Jeff had worked hard to renovate the place and they began delivering bread and bagels for resale at Joseph’s Bi-Rite Market and Manor Market.
Coincidentally, the major local grocery store was experiencing a workers’ strike at the time, so many local customers quickly discovered the little bakery and began visiting the shop. In the beginning, the cafe contained only one display case, a bell and a cash box for change. The case had been donated to them and was so ugly that they put a sheet over and placed plates of muffins and cookies on top. There were no employees. At the time Brooke was also an assistant cross-country running coach with Robin’s husband Jeff, a high school English teacher in Bishop. The sales from the bakery started at $28 the first day and kept growing.
In 2005, Robin bought Brooke’s share of the bakery and it became a sole proprietorship. Today, there are over 20 employees and gross sales approaching $1,000,000. The menu is continuing to grow, with a wide variety of artisan breads, breakfast pastries, gourmet cookies, traditional east coast style bagels, and a continually changing lunch menu. Plans are forming to expand the cafe in the next few years to better serve the growing customer base.
The Great Basin Bakery is a small, community bakery committed to producing highest quality, wholesome baked goods in a friendly and lively environment. Our specialties include artisan breads and bagels, gourmet cookies and selected pastries. We are also developing a breakfast and lunch menu to satisfy traditional and gourmet tastes alike. We pride ourselves on providing outstanding service, giving back to the local community, and advocating for environmental responsibility and healthy lifestyles. We are steadily approaching our dream of having an excellent work environment and comfortable wages and benefits for employees. The challenge of the coming years is balancing growth in productivity and menu diversity with continual dedication to quality and our loyal, local customer.
Born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1971
Lived in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Santa Barbara, CA and here (Eastern Sierra).
Education: West Chicago High School 1988
Miami University of Ohio, Bachelor of Philosophy 1992
Univ of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Master of Science (Oceanography) 1995
Univ of Calif Santa Barbara 4 years in Grad Dept of Ecology and Evolution
Met husband (Bishop High English teacher) on slopes of Mammoth Mountain
Married in 2004, two children
Enjoys skiing, hiking, canoeing, climbing, eating sushi and baked goods