Boudin Gives Away the Dough

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Tent City in Montgomery Village
  • Tent City in Montgomery Village

I went to sleep last night with yeasty dreams full of sourdough skies, piloting a yellow submarine through a claymation sea of clam chowder in a giant bread bowl. I admit, I wanted free bread. I thought I could have it by waking up early enough and driving to Boudin, where they were giving away free bread for a year to each of the first 100 people in line to celebrate their grand opening of the Santa Rosa restaurant. Just as I was getting the hang of the submarine’s controls, after I had nailed Ringo with a really good zinger about ratamacues, my alarm goes off. I awake in darkness and pick up my phone angrily. My sassy finger swipe to turn it off says, “Bitch, please, there ain’t even light outside.” But I get up anyway, throw on clothes and a sweatshirt, grab my camera and head out the door.

There are people sleeping in tents, sleeping bags and under blankets as I pull up to the well-lit parking lot of the new store. “I’ve got a shot, there aren’t too many people here,” I think as I walk up to what looks like the end of a short line. A man wearing a large beard and a laminated badge with the number 53 on it smiles at me as I ask, “Is this the end of the bread line?” He replies in the negative, informing me that all the spots were filled last night by 10pm. There was no line, but everyone had to stay in the parking lot. Several other people came and asked the same question to any waking souls around this time, but I stuck around to chat with a few lucky carb-o-loaders.

Jim McGinnis lucked into free bread
  • Jim McGinnis lucked into free bread
Jim McGinnis had heard music down the street, so he walked over the Montgomery Village shopping center to see what was going on. It was a jazz band, but more importantly there was this thing about free bread. So he got in line and called home for chairs, blankets and coffee. He says Boudin fed everyone well and even offered a Zumba class in the afternoon, with another to come that morning. I should have arrived last night.

Lorraine Robles waited over 24 hours for bread
  • Lorraine Robles waited over 24 hours for bread
Lorraine Robles is 66 and in a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop her from arriving at 5:30am the day before to earn placard number 14. She has plenty of siblings, so the bread won’t go to waste, she says. After first trying Boudin bread 50 years ago, she was hooked. It’s even as good as the original “mother dough” from Alaska, which she has had the privilege of baking with. She can’t wait for her bread this morning. I should have arrived last night.

Yvette Cuny now has four free loaves of bread for a year
  • Yvette Cuny now has four free loaves of bread for a year
Yvette Cuny is a veteran of the getting-free-bread-for-a-year-from-Boudin thing. Hailing from Sacramento, this was her fourth overnight Boudin parking lot camping trip. Who needs to bring home the bacon when she’s such a breadwinner? She played the game right, understanding the rules in a way that turn it to her favor. Boudin gives each person 365 vouchers for free bread, each with a date stamp. They can be redeemed at any location, so she uses them mostly at her local area restaurant. It would be silly to think any one person could eat four loaves of bread in one day, and she’s not silly. She hands them out to family and friends. I told her she should be on Boudin’s marketing staff. She laughed, but I was serious. Free bread, making friends and bringing home some extra cash? I should have arrived last night.

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