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Issue date: December 22, 2000

Suzanne Epstein, the owner of Suzanne's Muffins on Whisman Road, supervised the auction of the company's equipment Tuesday with her head baker, Marcel Marcinkowski.

@vcredit:Dick Waters

Suzanne's Muffins closes Suzanne's Muffins closes (December 22, 2000)

Long-time Valley favorite succumbs to rising rents, shrinking labor pool

By Justin Scheck

Suzanne's Muffins, a mail-order bakery that has garnered a reputation for having the "best muffin the Bay Area," closed last week after a rent increase and the depleted local labor pool made continuing the business impossible.

"I've been in business for 15 years, and been in Mountain View for over nine," said owner Suzanne Epstein. "But it's become hard to find labor. We're in the food industry, and we can't pay like the high-tech industry."

Epstein said also that her landlord, Jack Dymond Associates of Los Altos, had raised her rent more than 500 percent.

Epstein said that as the cost of living in the area has increased, she has lost many long-time employees who have moved to the Central Valley in search of more affordable housing. When the problem began to affect even her supervisorial staff, it became clear that the muffin company could no longer survive.

"Fifteen months ago my baking supervisor, who had been here for 10 years, moved to Sacramento ... The employees who want to raise their families here have to leave the area to be able to buy a house," Epstein said.

Dymond spokesman Chuck Frascone declined to comment on Epstein's rent increase.

Epstein added that she wants to keep her muffins on the market in some way but does not know yet how she will do it.

"I'm looking for a bakery to which I can license the Suzanne's Muffins name and recipe," she said. But, she added, it has proven difficult to find an existing business that will make the commitment to the level of quality she is seeking.


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