The switch is due to changes initiated in recent years in the city's prepared-foods application-renewal process. Vendors no longer are "guaranteed" a spot at the market, as market manager Laura Avery says. Instead they must reapply for a contract every few years. "The city attorney called us at one point and said we had to open up our system; we had to have a way for new applicants to have an opportunity to get in the market," Avery says. "And you know, he was right. So we changed the application process."
Jack Bezian, who specializes in naturally fermented, whole-grain sourdough breads, doesn't see it that way. "This is crazy. I've been here more than 17 years, and they're kicking me out," he says.
The updated application process uses a point system to track a vendor's sustainability (composting, transportation methods), ingredient sourcing (local farmers market, fair trade) and the location of the production facility. Bezian's production facility is in East Hollywood; Red Bread, a sustainable bakery that also makes naturally fermented breads, is in Venice.
Applications undergo a review by a committee of both city employees and community members.
Bezian has hired a lawyer to contest the decision. He says his contract is valid through 2013, so it's possible that his breads will continue to be available in Santa Monica for a few more months. His also sells his breads at the Saturday Pasadena and Sunday Hollywood farmers markets.
If not, there's always the Bread Man solution. When owner Nick Zuvic's Saturday Santa Monica Farmers Market contract wasn't renewed, he began parking his bread-filled van adjacent to his old booth during market hours. An underground bread ring in Santa Monica? Save us a loaf.