“When I first learned about the job as general manager of Rustic Bakery Tiburon, I knew it was for me,” Ari Maslow says. “I love waking up each morning and knowing I get to make coffee for (people in) Tiburon.”
Ari, a Mill Valley native says, as a kid, he regularly rode his bike to Blackie’s Pasture and around Paradise Drive, so he feels that Rustic Bakery and Tiburon are like home to him.
The 47-year-old took over managing the local eatery last May. “Health and cleanness is our (Rustic Bakery’s) number one priority,” he says. “We got an ‘A’ during our county health inspection the other day.” The inspection is graded on not only cleanness and sanitization, but also on always cooking and keeping foods at the correct temperatures.
“At the heart of our business, we are a hometown bakery,” Ari says, “and Rustic Bakery is a great place to hang out. It’s where you can find anything to eat any time of the day – coffee and pastry in the mornings or wine, salad and bread in the afternoons.”
The other three Rustic Bakery kitchens – two in Larkspur and one in Novato - produce the fresh, organic foods that are delivered to the Tiburon store at the crack of dawn each morning, in time for its daily 7 a.m. opening.
“One of the first things (founder and president) Carol LeValley said to me was, ‘Rustic is committed to high quality, affordable food,’” Ari says. “We at Rustic Bakery are a team and a family for which all parts are equally important. A manager is nothing without a team, and I give credit to my team for our success.”
New events are coming up at Rustic Bakery in the Boardwalk: Each Saturday, a free wine tasting is held in the courtyard from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants are asked for their opinions on two different California regional wines, curated by Carol LeValley and paired with ‘the perfect bite.’
There is a 20-percent discount off the sale price of any wine featured at the tasting. “I want to compliment our assistant manager Edwin Cruz for taking over this successful event,” Ari says. “The Rustic Bakery staff is planning more exciting events as the weather improves.”
No stranger to cooking, Ari learned the craft from his mother who, he says, was a “great cook.” He also remembers watching Julia Child’s television show as a kid.
His first job at age 14, while a student at Tamalpais High School, was as a busboy at the Mountain Home Inn. Within several months, he was made innkeeper, assigned to take care of customers’ nighttime requests. “I was excited,” he says. “I slept overnight on a bench in the dining room using a tablecloth as a blanket.”
After graduating high school in 1989, he went to the University of New Mexico where he majored in anthropology. “My mom was a renowned (American) Indian art expert in basketry,” he says. He went on to assist her in the business and also became an expert – and an interest that he still continues to pursue in his off hours.
While a student in New Mexico, Ari and a partner opened a coffee cart business named ‘Café Loco.’ “It was the second espresso machine in the state at the time,” he says. “We ran our business between classes and made good money.”
An entrepreneur at heart, he moved to Taos, New Mexico, and helped open an American/Southwest cuisine restaurant.
In 1998, he returned to Marin and co-founded a coffee cart business - the first in Marin - at Tam Junction named “Mount Joy” that served varietal, organic coffees.
He also formed a nonprofit, green building business named Sustainable Solutions. “My dream was to share green building with the masses,” he says.
In 2006, when new owners took over the Depot in Mill Valley, he was hired as its general manager and head cook. “That kitchen was a postage stamp,” he says, recalling its cramped quarters.
In 2009, he formed a new enterprise, “Terrassure,” a sustainable land and resource development company that became one of the first benefit corporations in California.
In 2012, Ari’s mother had a stroke, and he took over the family business as well as becoming her caregiver. After she died the following year, he became the kitchen manager at Muir Woods Trading Company, eventually becoming its manager and head cook.
Now, at Rustic Bakery, Ari feels he has found his niche in a job that incorporates all his past experiences into one. “Each Rustic Bakery is part of its own community,” he says. “We are a big part of the Tiburon community.” This is proven by the generous contributions Rustic Bakery has made to numerous local events and festivities in the short time it has been open here.
“I think my life has been such a neat story,” he says, “ and I’m grateful for it all.”