Strategic new locations. Innovative product introductions. New technology strategies and tools. All of these factors play heavily into the future success of retail bakeries in America.

Partner and head baker Avery Ruzicka is proud to announce the spring opening of Manresa Bread in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village. The new location joins existing outposts in Los Gatos, Los Altos, and Campbell, California, and features new menu items and grab-and-go offerings. Designed by local Bay Area-firm Arcsine Architecture and Design, the Palo Alto bakery is open for takeaway daily from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (or until sold out), with a menu including Ruzicka’s beloved house-milled sourdough breads, laminated pastries, entremets, quiches, sandwiches, seasonal salads and a robust coffee and tea menu. Manresa Bread merch, at-home baking kits, and curated retail selections round out the offerings.

Guests are encouraged to pre-order in advance for same-day pick-up, to avoid the disappointment of arriving to find their favorite croissant sold-out.

“We just made 6,000 kouign-amann in a month. It is wild to think this is our 7th year. The last two years have flown by,” Ruzicka says. “Every year is such a huge learning experience, and we learn different kinds of lessons.”

The opening is a return to Palo Alto, as Manresa Bread began selling bread at the California Avenue Farmers’ Market in 2013, cultivating a local following for Ruzicka’s loaves made with natural fermentation and house-milled, predominately local grains. The pandemic brought that to a close, and now Ruzicka celebrates welcoming those customers back.

“We’ve always had a soft spot for our regulars in Palo Alto who showed up at the farmers’ market week-after-week reaffirming their support for our thoughtful and specialized break-making,” says Ruzicka. “We’ve been waiting for the right space to open a brick-and-mortar bakery, and we are excited to be a part of Town & Country Village and the newest wave of retail outposts coming to this legacy destination.”

Adding to Ruzicka’s line-up of menu favorites are new offerings for Palo Alto, mainly in the entremets category. First to debut are a Mini Carrot Cake with Pineapple Jam ($12); specials like an Almond Rye Blueberry Tartlet ($9); and more to come. Highlights from the sandwich and toast offerings include a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich ($13); Jambon Beurre ($15); Salmon Toast ($15); and Biscuit and Jam ($7). Chia Pudding ($12) and Seasonal Salads ($14) make for easy grab-and-go options as well.

A selection of coffees made with custom Verve Coffee blends include classics as well as creative bread-inspired drinks like the Honey Cinnamon Latte and the Monkey Bread Latte—made with muscovado sugar slow-simmered for hours with cinnamon sticks—reminiscent of the often-sold-out Monkey Bread.

“We produce quite a lot for the size of team we have. We have about 70 total employees,” Ruzicka says. “How do we keep quality and consistency? We have an incredible team.”

Designed by Oakland-based Arcsine Architecture and Design, the 1,680-square-foot space allows customers to feel like they are walking into Ruzicka’s personal kitchen. The art of baking is on full display with as much visibility into the bread-making process possible throughout the space. A fluted white oak counter with textured white marble greets customers on arrival, while the deep blue tile along the bar wall adds warmth and movement to the naturally lit grab and go. The overall minimalistic design acts as a clean slate and lets the baked goods take center stage. Architectural features such as the exposed ceiling beams recall the iconic unpainted homes of Sea Ranch, California. Hints of orange are found throughout the space and, along with the blue accents of the tile, recall Manresa Bread’s original logo palette.

Avocado seven grains bread

Bakeries can make great headway in today’s marketplace with innovative new products that meet the evolving needs of consumers, who are far more international in their flavor preferences than ever before.

Anthony & Sons Bakery reports very positive results from its new Avocado Seven Grains Bread, which is made with guacamole spice.

“I want to see what the trends are, and we looked into avocado, which is such a big category now. It is growing 5-10% year to year,” explains Ben Rizzitello, who is vice president for sales/marketing at Anthony & Sons Bakery/Markets, based in Denville, New Jersey. “We have gotten so much attention from such a unique, trending product. Chefs have called us because they want to put our product on the menu. It’s such an exciting time for us.”

The company’s R&D team has been working diligently on this unique formula, becoming the first to market with one of the top trending categories in the industry.

Anthony & Sons Bakery team is also excited to deliver an item that’s on trend, healthy, clean label, vegan. Packed with grains and flavor and offers a ton of benefits.  One powerful loaf of bread makes a delicious sandwich, perfect as a stand-alone, toasted for breakfast or great with vegetables and guacamole for dipping as a snack or appetizer.

The thaw-and-sell product comes in a 24-ounce loaf, designed for easy convenience in foodservice or retail usage. Loaded with seven grains such as sunflower, oats, and more, not only are there grains in the interior crumb but they also enrobed the loaf with an exterior crust of seven grains. The spice added gives a hint of guacamole flavor mixed with fresh avocado.

Anthony & Sons has proven to be the leader in innovation and has transformed the bread-baking industry with its EZ Freezer to Oven® line. The company is one of today’s largest suppliers of breads and rolls throughout the country, with a 65,000-square-food, fully automated production plant and headquarters located in Denville

“We are focused on unique trending flavors, and we have also incorporated siracha in our brioche loaf. It’s gotten so much attention. This is really exciting for us.”

Expanding customers

Leading brioche brand, St Pierre Bakery, has secured new distribution with the world’s second largest retailer, Costco. The brand launched into the Bay Area division in 2021, distributed across 57 sites. After a successful launch, Costco has now added St Pierre’s core range to its Los Angeles division stores – initially through 30 of the 59 clubs in the LA division.

The move will see Costco become one of St Pierre Bakery’s largest customers on the West Coast. Both West Coast divisions will offer a twin-packed 6 count of St Pierre’s best-selling Brioche Burger Buns whilst the Costco Bay Area clubs will also offer a twin-packed 6 count of St Pierre Brioche Hot Dog Rolls, to cater to grilling season demand.

“Our business with Costco is going from strength-to-strength and is a key part of our growth plans for the next three years. It’s an incredible achievement for a brand in its relative infancy and testament to the work we have done in building St Pierre in America,” says David Wagstaff, vice president, North America for St Pierre Bakery. “It’s also a great example of how we work in collaboration with our retail partners, to ensure that we are offering the right products in a relevant format. The twin-pack offering is something we currently only do for Costco – because it works for their shoppers. We have invested in making St Pierre work for Costco, making the brand available across various trade channels and to go above and beyond for our customers.”

The brand recently announced a $10 million investment in its supply chain infrastructure to support increased distribution – no doubt an investment that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the retailer.

Since launching in May last year, sales of St Pierre in Costco are up 56 percent and the brand boasts an average fill rate of 98 per cent – despite disruptions to the supply chain that have left many suppliers struggling to meet customer expectations.

America’s favorite brioche brand has revealed it’s performing ahead of forecast after a successful start to the year. In January, the brand secured new item placement with national retailer, Kroger, and has expanded its reach across America with new customer relationships on the East Coast.

Kroger, based in Cincinnati where St Pierre recently opened its first American offices, launched two new products on to shelves nationwide earlier this year. St Pierre Seeded Brioche Burger Buns and St Pierre Chocolate & Hazelnut Filled Crepes are helping drive new customers to the growing brand which has grown sales by 22 percent year to date.

Sales are also up on the East Coast, after the brand secured new distribution with ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS) securing space on shelf with 36 Wakefern and ShopRite sites across New York and New Jersey. The retail group is now offering a selection of the brand’s popular grilling range and breakfast must-haves including St Pierre Brioche Bagels, Brioche Sliced Loaf and All Butter Croissants.

 “We have big plans for this year and these latest distribution wins stand put us in a strong position for meeting ambitious targets,” Wagstaff says

Unit sales for February 2022 are significantly stronger than at the same time last year – which was also a successful period – and that’s testament to the team we have assembled in the past 12 months, to further build the brand in America.

“As a brand, we work in collaboration with retailers, investing in merchandising solutions, innovative racks and stand-out fixtures to drive both sales of our own brand, but also footfall to the in-store bakeries of retailers across the country,” he adds. “Everything at St Pierre is about enhancing the experience, from shopping through to eating, and elevating the ‘everyday’. Anyone attending Expo West this year can see this is in action, too – sampling our products and meeting the people who are at the heart of our brand.”

On the technology front

Innovative retailers are also experiencing unprecedented growth in demand for fresh foods, including bakery. On the technology front, Amazon announced Buy with Prime—a new benefit for Prime members that will extend the convenience of Prime shopping to online stores beyond Buy with Prime will initially be available by invitation only for merchants using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and will roll out through 2022 as merchants are invited to participate, including those not selling on Amazon or using FBA.

Buy with Prime will allow millions of U.S.-based Prime members to shop directly from merchants’ online stores with the trusted experience they expect from Amazon—including fast, free delivery, a seamless checkout experience, and free returns on eligible orders. Prime members will see the Prime logo and delivery promise on eligible products in merchants’ online stores, which signals the item is available for free delivery, as fast as next day, with free returns. When shopping with Buy with Prime, checkout is simple and convenient. Prime members will use the payment and shipping information stored in their Amazon account and receive timely shipping and delivery notifications after an order is placed.

“We always aim to exceed Prime members’ expectations by offering more selection, exclusive deals, quality content, and convenient features,” says Jamil Ghani, vice president of Amazon Prime. “With the introduction of Buy with Prime, we’re expanding where members can enjoy trusted and convenient Prime shopping benefits beyond Amazon, adding even more value to their membership. Members will have the flexibility to shop from merchants directly, all while enjoying the fast, free delivery, seamless checkout, and easy returns they’ve come to know and love from Amazon.”

“For over 20 years, we’ve been empowering small and medium-sized businesses with opportunities to grow,” says Peter Larsen, Amazon’s vice president of Buy with Prime. “Allowing merchants to offer Prime shopping benefits on their own direct-to-consumer online stores is an exciting next step in our mission to help merchants of all sizes grow their business—whether on Amazon or beyond. With shoppers purchasing directly from merchants’ online stores, Buy with Prime will allow merchants to build customer relationships and brand loyalty while offering conversion-driving benefits like fast, free shipping.”