Many people fantasize about turning a creative hobby into a successful business, but that was never Randall Michael Tobin’s intent. He already had a dream career in the music industry as the owner of a recording studio and media creation facility since 1977, a lifetime member of the Recording Academy and winner of industry awards in producing, composing, songwriting, engineering and film editing. When he started baking bread in November 2016, it was just for fun, with the hope of honing his skills enough to produce a few homemade holiday gifts.
“My wife wrapped them up beautifully, and we presented four of them to family and friends on Christmas Day,” Tobin remembers. “Each opened their package, sliced the bread and put a little butter on their first slice, then took their first bite. Uniformly, they stopped in their tracks. I asked what was wrong. The response: ‘This is the best bread I’ve ever had!’ I wasn’t expecting that kind of reaction, but it made me feel so happy inside, I decided to continue.” As he kept baking and sharing the results, people began clamoring to buy his bread. However, Tobin stuck firmly to the spirit of giving that had inspired his endeavor, handing out more than 800 loaves over the next four years — “randomly, I might add.” His wife, Cyndie, found organic bamboo cutting boards to go along with the bread and artfully packaged the gifts using tea towels, ribbon and ornaments.
Eventually, the enthusiasm of the recipients persuaded Tobin to take the first steps toward opening his own bakery. But just as he was developing the concept, the COVID pandemic struck. “At that point, I couldn’t even find flour to keep my sourdough starter alive!” he says. “Fortunately, I had frozen about 25 pounds of organic flour before the shelves went bare and I was able to keep the starter alive for several months.”
The Tobins had been residents of Burbank’s Rancho neighborhood since 1988 and knew they wanted to keep their business close by. “I spent the first six years of my life in Burbank and I have early memories of Bob’s Big Boy and the Smoke House,” he adds. “This is a great area to call home!” Focusing his search on a two-mile radius around the Burbank–Toluca Lake border, he lucked into the perfect spot on Magnolia Boulevard, where Random Acts of Breadness opened in August 2021.
Maintaining Tobin’s emphasis on giving from the heart, the bakery not only produces two types of its signature sourdough, but also stocks more than 60 gourmet accompaniments (like honeys, jams and olive oils) and accessories (such as knives and cutting boards) to help customers assemble custom gift packages for the bread lovers in their lives. The business further prioritizes giving back through its commitment to eco-friendliness and personal service. “We love what we do and love sharing that passion with our customers,” Tobin says. “We have free samples of everything edible we sell. We’re a family company with more than half the staff being senior citizens, and they are thrilled to be able to help lift the spirits of people in this community!”
For a special recipe from Tobin using his sourdough, see our companion story, “Breadness Artisan Sourdough Cheese Melt.”