Atwater Village – Proof Bakery employees took over the company.
The popular pastry shop – a mainstay of Glendale Boulevard for more than 10 years – has been sold to its employees, who now run it as a cooperative.
“The decision will be made in different ways, depending on the nature and impact of the decision in question,” said Sarah Brown, who is a baker at Proof, as well as a member of the cooperative and spokesperson for the. group.
This arrangement did not happen overnight. Former owner Na Young Ma has always had a desire to partner with employees, according to Alison Lingane of Project Equity, a nonprofit that started working with Ma in 2019 to help transfer the business to workers.
“This is a business sale. It’s a business transition, but not a cold transition, ”Lingane said. “It’s a sincere and warm transition.
Lingane noted that Proof, which has been the site of various bakeries since the 1960s, sometimes queues for 30 minutes for a pastry.
“They were just amazing to work with them,” Lingane said. “They’re really getting things done during COVID. It is truly a beloved community institution.
So how can employees afford to buy a business? By asking the company itself – rather than the employees – to take out the loan to pay it off, Lingane said. Then, part of the profits goes to repay this loan, others go back to the business and others go to pay the owner-workers. Currently, the co-op has 11 members, Brown said.
As for the leadership structure, the leadership team is overseen by a new board of directors, whose members are elected from among worker-owners, Brown said. Worker-owners also vote to approve more important financial or situational decisions.
That being said, will this have an impact on the baking?
“There will be no menu changes as a direct result of the business transition,” said Brown. “In fact, none of our day-to-day operations are affected by this change. We are always committed to maintaining the high quality pastries that our customers know and love. That being said, as we move into the holiday season, you can expect to see more festive items on display in the case. “