Arizmendi bakery opened Wednesday on 24th and Valencia.

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It’s been two mouth-watering weeks of free treats for those who’ve stopped by the new Arizmendi on Valencia Street at 24th.

After two weeks of free handouts, Arizmendi opens for business.

But 2,800 scones, 350 loaves of bread and 140 pizzas later, workers at the cooperative owner-operated bakery began taking money for their hard work on Wednesday.

“That’s just an estimate of what we gave away,” explains Joe Marraffino, a seven-year veteran of Arizmendi’s store at Ninth Avenue and Irving Street. Marraffino is part of the crew currently helping to train the new bakers.

The Mission community is heavily connected digitally, he says, so most visitors mentioned finding out about the new bakery through blog posts and tweets. But, he adds, there have been plenty of walk-ins as well.

The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives began 30 years ago in Berkeley, with the Cheeseboard. Starting in 1997, sister bakeries sprouted in Oakland, Emeryville, San Rafael and San Francisco, connected to the Cheeseboard but bearing the name Arizmendi, after the Basque priest who helped found the Mondragón Cooperatives. The new Mission District branch marks the sixth such endeavor.

The bakery is still waiting for approval from the Planning Department to put up its new sign, designed by the owners/employees and built by New Bohemia Signs.

The new employee-designed Arizmendi sign, from Neon Bohemia Signs.

The Bay Area cooperative typically doles out freebies at its new stores for a week. But due to a stalled operating permit, it decided to extend the giveaway for a second week. That means a solid month of giving it away: for the two weeks prior to the storefront handouts, the new location gave away food to local food shelters.

“My sense is that giving away all this food is actually better for us,” Marraffino says. “It’s good practice for our bakers, and it’s important for them to interact with the community. And it’s great marketing.”

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