February Farm News Member Profile Costeaux French Bakery

Written By: Brytann Busick
Published: February 7, 2020

Most people especially think about carbohydrates each year starting on January 1st as a part of new year’s resolutions. Will Seppi, CEO of Costeaux French Bakery, however, thinks about carbohydrates every single day.

Costeaux French Bakery offers a wide range of carbohydrates including crafted baked goods from sourdough artisan breads, to rolls and buns, cookies, and cakes that are distributed throughout the North Bay including Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa and Marin counties. 

One of their most unique products is a familiar and fun feature at the Great Sonoma Crab & Wine Fest. No crab feed would be complete without the crab… or the crab bread, which has been provided by Costeaux since 2013.

Seppi said that he knows the Costeaux French Bakery from the ground up. Growing up, he and his siblings did their homework on the flour sacks at the bakery as his parents ran the family business. He said that his upbringing in the bakery instilled in him a strong work ethic at a very young age. 

“I got to do everything—sweep the floors, wash dishes, fold boxes, and eventually I got to wait on the guests who came to the bakery. I joke around that I can still fold boxes faster than anyone in the company,” Seppi said. “During my formative years, I saw my parents work hard every day to provide for the family and the values they instilled in me carried through the decades and to today where I am running the company and leading the organization with those same core values.”

Costeaux French Bakery traces its roots back to 1923, originally opening as the French American Bakery. In the early years, the bakery delivered twice a week to customers in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley who would charge their goods and pay once a year after they harvested their crops. A French couple, Jean and Annie Costeaux purchased the bakery in 1972 renaming the bakery to its current name. In 1981, Will’s parents, Karl and Nancy Seppi, purchased the bakery.

Today, Seppi said that he is proud to work for his family’s business because he believes that family businesses are core to our communities.  He said that Costeaux’s unwavering commitment to its core values – family, community, quality and service—set them apart.

“We have a rich legacy and great responsibility to ensure that we deliver on what our guests have come to expect from an institution that is nearly 100 years young,” Seppi said. “At Costeaux we honor our past, learn and endeavor to continue to build a great organization.”

Surprisingly, Seppi said that he never thought that he would end up working for the family business. 

“I headed east for college and started my career in public accounting and corporate finance in downtown Philadelphia,” Seppi said. “I got out of the cab one morning, slipped on the ice, ripped a hole in my suit pants and realized then and there that I was ready to move back to California.”

Soon after, his parents were looking for a change and Seppi said that he saw an opportunity to join and grow the family business.

“I moved back to Healdsburg 15 years ago and got involved in every level of the operation once again,” Seppi said. “I took steps forward and made changes. We started growing the bread production and changed the style of bread by developing our own natural starters instead of using commercial yeast.”

Seppi tasked his father with the project to develop a new product. Six months later they made it available for customers. 

“We started making 10, 20 or 30 loaves and it just kept growing and eventually, we ran out of space.” 

In 2015, Costeaux added a 30,000-square-foot Costeaux Baking Centre wholesale production building near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. Farm Bureau staff can often smell the delicious aroma of their products being baked from the Farm Bureau office on Westwind, Blvd.

Today, the company has a full-service bakery café in downtown Healdsburg that serves breakfast and lunch daily. Additionally, the company launched Costeaux On The Go at the Sonoma County Airport in the spring of 2019, which features prepared foods, coffee, pastry and cakes. A satellite bakery is located inside Big John’s Market in Healdsburg and Tia Maria, which is a neighborhood bakery café located on Sebastopol Ave. in the Roseland area.

Team Costeaux has over 120 members – bakers, pastry chefs, drivers, service associates, sales, facilities, administration all of whom work collaboratively each day to craft baked goods and distribute them to retail locations as well as wholesale accounts for guests to enjoy.

Seppi said that it is an honor to be a member of the agricultural community and to represent one of the oldest crops on earth that has been a staple of life throughout civilization.

“Worldwide wheat is traded more than all other agriculture crops combined,” Seppi said. “It’s amazing to be a small producer in a very large field. We are honored to be part of the agricultural community representing Sonoma County on the world stage of baking.”

Seppi said that he is a Farm Bureau member because supporting ranchers and farmers is critical.   

“They’re the bedrock of the county and tend to be great stewards of the land,” Sepp said. “Farmers and ranchers play a critical role in the growth, development and economic wellbeing of our community.  Similarly, we endeavor to be great stewards of our limited resources as well. The Farm Bureau represents and advocates for our collective interests.”

Sepp said that Costeaux is well poised to continue crafting quality baked goods into the foreseeable future.  

“As a family business we continue investing in people, processes and products that allow for incremental growth and development taking a long-term approach to our growth strategy, yet at the same time be nimble enough to quickly adjust and make changes,” Sepp said. 

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