Breadblok, Southern California’s emerging gluten-free bakery and cafe, abruptly closed all locations on Tuesday, May 2. Notes were plastered on the entries at Breadblok Studio City, Silver Lake, Santa Monica, and the freshly opened location in Beverly Hills, stating, “We are no longer able to sustain our business model.”
Chloé Charlier — who owns the bakery with sister Celine — tells Eater that it’s been difficult to navigate a business throughout COVID. “We’re truthfully devastated by all of this and really going to miss the communities,” says Chloé. “There’s a lot of people that are going to miss us, and it’s unfortunate.”
After decades of working around wheat protein, the Charlier family sought to bring gluten-free goods to the SoCal region. They opened their first Santa Monica location in February 2020 and quickly gained popularity. Breadblok became quickly known for its modern interiors, croissants that looked exactly like the traditional variety, sleek display cases, and in some locations, wine and gluten-free beers.
As the pandemic marched on, Breadblok embarked on a rapid expansion path with four locations within three years to compete with the likes of popular gluten-free bakeries Modern Bread and Bagel, fonuts, and Levant Bistro + Bake Shop. Chloé says that Breadblok never secured permits for the now-scrapped Venice location, even after waiting for two years. She also notes the challenges of weaving through LA’s red tape maze, which is the permit and inspection process. “Opening new locations has been incredibly difficult in the City of LA,” says Charlier. “Throughout this process, it’s just taken months and years actually to secure a permit to open a new location.”
As an organic, gluten-free bakery, Breadblok’s prices were a reflection of sourcing from farmers and vendors that could adhere to the bakery’s ethos with no additives, preservatives, refined sugars, gum, or soy. Chloé also stated that Breadblok utilized plastic-free containers since day one and paid employees above market rate.
Restaurant operators throughout the region felt the landscape shift under their feet throughout COVID-19 and inflation including Konbi, which shuttered both Echo Park and Culver City locations in early 2023. Both Konbi and Breadblok cited similar challenges of operating in LA and California. Customers avoiding gluten were and still are loyal to Breadblok, but one glance at the bakery’s Yelp and social media pages indicates that $9 croissants can be a hard sell. Though Konbi maneuvered into pop-ups, Breadblok’s owners stated it will not set up at regional farmers markets or in any capacity.
Breadblok’s full statement is below: