Maria opened The Rising Loafer in 2003, bringing fresh baked goods, breakfast, and lunch items into the East Bay. The Rising Loafer prides itself on being sustainable, with Maria growing many of the ingredients herself, and making sure everything is ethically sourced.

The Rising Loafer offers a variety of cafe and bakery items, including sandwiches, soups, omelets, pancakes, French toasts, and salads. Maria makes the condiments herself and encourages recycling, repurposing, and reusing goods.

Proud to be a certified green business, The Rising Loafer selects only the finest ingredients for their freshly baked breads, healthy breakfast dishes, crepes, traditional sandwiches, and delicious Mediterranean specials. Locally grown produce is utilized to prepare the restaurant’s renowned fresh salads. Virtually unheard of these days, The Rising Loafer hand makes the organic and preservative-free breads and pastries that are used in all sandwiches and other dishes. Catering and local delivery services are available per order.

By placing sustainability on the frontline of The Rising Loafer’s mission, Maria has cultivated a strong presence within the community. One elderly woman who had lost her memory somehow remembered Maria’s cafe and Maria’s husband’s name. The Rising Loafer has been a point of comfort and safe haven for many people.

The Rising Loafer Café and Bakery aims to bring family and friends together to enjoy real food made from scratch. From our freshly baked pastries and savory sandwiches, to our Mediterranean specials and heart-warming soups, we cook with seasonal produce provided by local farmers to reduce carbon footprint and support the local community. Within the rustic and homey setting of The Rising Loafer Café and Bakery, you will be embarking on an artful, sustainable, and mouth-watering journey, indulging in delicious and rejuvenating crafted foods. We would love to have you join us and celebrate food that is nourishing for our mind, body, and the environment!

Unfortunately, Covid-19 drastically affected Maria’s business. Maria has had to cut all her employees, with her and her husband operating the entire store. Despite these challenges, The Rising Loafer has persevered.

With Maria’s vision of sustainability in mind, as well as the goal of fostering a safe sanctuary for people to enjoy her comfort food, the Rising Loafer hopes to continue its business and achieve its mission. Ultimately, Maria hopes to convert The Rising Loafer into a co-op where all the employees who operate the business also own it. She wants everyone to work towards the same cause — providing sustainable food to the community. Outside of the business, Maria works with local nonprofit organizations such as Sustainable Lafayette — an environmental taskforce to educate her community about environmental activism. She sees The Rising Loafer as a way to show people that it is possible to make a living without damaging the environment. Through The Rising Loafer, she hopes that she can continue doing what she does and leave an environmentally conscious legacy behind.

Maria’s story
I grew up in the highlands of Peru in a town in the Andes Mountains. I was raised by a community operating in a circular economy, where food was grown organically and put back into the Earth sustainably. I later lived in other Latin American countries, where I focused on working in international human rights. I also worked for refugee rights within the United Nations and moved to the United States to continue my work.

However, I felt unsatisfied, so I decided to enroll at UC Berkeley to do more tangible work. I decided to study Environmental Science at the School of Natural Resources. When I graduated, however, the country was in the midst of an economic recession and I struggled to find a job. I worked at a pizza place in San Pablo, and when offering food to people, I learned the true meaning of survival. I reached back into my roots and became invested in offering sustainable and organic food to lower-income families. Working with the police and local Latino community, I created the first Latino restaurant in the shopping mall of my community.

After years of working in the restaurant industry, I eventually moved to Lafayette, where I founded the Rising Loafer Bakery & Cafe. For over 18 years, I have served breakfast and lunch to my community. I was heavily involved with the environmental issues within my city to advocate for a light carbon footprint and emphasize food that is both good for the environment and for one’s health. Having been an activist her entire life, Maria’s business has been an opportunity for her to promote sustainability and make an impact on the local ecosystem. She hopes to continue depending on the Earth for its raw resources, and serve my purpose of protecting the Earth.

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