Nearly 100-year-old Oakland bakery forced out of business, cites high rent and soaring crime

A hallmark of Oakland, California shut its doors for the last time at 3:00 p.m. this past Sunday.

A Taste of Denmark, a 93-year-old bakery in the Bay Area, was forced out of business, pointing to the city’s high crime and inordinate cost of rent as the main reasons for its closure.

The bakery, originally named Neldam’s, opened in 1929 and served the Oakland community continually in the decades since. The name was changed in 2010 when former employees took over ownership and turned the pastry shop into a co-op, but the business continued to succeed. Like many restaurants, however, the local establishment began to suffer in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Taste of Denmark’s main source of income was its catering business, and under Governor Gavin Newsom’s stringent COVID lockdown and restrictions, its business began to struggle to stay afloat.

“A big part of our business is the catering business. And so when the pandemic happened it took that whole catering business out of the equation and made it really hard for us to stay open,” Ramon Luna, one of the co-op owners, told Fox 2 San Francisco.

“The rent’s really high. And we get our windows broken every three weeks,” Luna continued.

A recent study by WalletHub compiled a list of 182 cities across the nation, organizing them from the most to least safe.  Cities were scored on three categories, home and community, natural disaster, and financial safety. Oakland, California’s total score, unsurprisingly, has it situated very near to the bottom at 175, bookended by fellow California cities Los Angeles at 172 and San Bernardino at 180.

“One of the biggest worries for many people right now is the cost of inflation, which reached a four-decade high this year and threatens Americans’ financial safety,” WalletHub’s financial writer Adam McCann reports. “No one can avoid all danger, however, and we take on a certain level of risk based on where we choose to live. Some cities are simply better at protecting their residents from harm.”

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the Golden State’s violent crime rate “increased by 6.0%, from 440 per 100,000 residents in 2020 to 466 in 2021.” As of 2020, the latest data available, the violent crime rate “was higher than the national rate of 387 per 100,000 residents and ranked 16th nationwide.” The institute goes on to state that property crime had risen 2.4% from 2020 to 2021, and the region with the largest amount of property crime was the San Francisco Bay Area.

Crime isn’t the only hurdle Bay Area restaurants have to face as Luna pointed out. Nearly one third of California restaurants were forced to close permanently during the pandemic as a result of Newsom’s policies. Few industries were harder hit than the dining sector, an industry that before the pandemic employed 1.8 million people. Further exacerbating the issues restaurant owners are facing, many of them were unable to receive support from the federal government’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund. According to the California Restaurant Association, only 44% of California restaurants that applied for assistance received it.

A Taste of Denmark isn’t the first to close due to the reaction to the pandemic, and poor governmental policies, and unfortunately, due to rising costs and inflation, it likely won’t be the last.




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