Beyond flavor trends, independents in the bakery café sector are breaking new ground, supported by mounting evidence that consumers love local.

“Major full service chains, especially in the casual dining sector of the market, are really struggling,” states Joe Pawlak, Technomic managing principal. “Consumer economic uncertainty, value issues, and undifferentiated positions are putting strains on many full service chains. However, independents seem to be holding their own as consumers are gravitating to these establishments due to their unique offerings, local orientation and strong value propositions.”
With these trends in mind, Great Harvest Bread recently announced the company will be looking to expand in all areas of the United States, primarily in the Northeast region. The company will begin offering a “hub and spoke” bakery-cafe franchise opportunity. With the new model, franchisees can purchase a large territory that includes a single Great Harvest Bread Co. bakery operation, and as many cafe-only units as they desire in surrounding towns. The bakery locations would be equipped with ovens and ample space to produce and deliver the hand-milled breads to the nearby cafe-only locations throughout the day.
The total average cost to open a Great Harvest Bread Company bakery cafe is about $315,000, compared to more than three times the amount for competing larger footprint concepts, according to the company, which is looking to open 25 locations with the new model in the next 15-18 months. While the new model is ideally suited for multi-unit operators, single-unit franchises in smaller territories will still be available. 
Dubbed “bread heaven” by fanatic customers since 1976, Great Harvest Bread bakeries make their bread from whole grains milled right on the premises – typically a five-hour process that starts every day as early as 2:30 a.m.
Great Harvest continues to mill its own high-quality wheat and bake bread fresh daily, according to Great Harvest Bread president Eric Keshin. “Our customers love us for that. We continue to grind wheat berries ordered from local Montana family-owned farms. We curate the outside of the sandwich to the inside. We offer every potential customer a sample slice of whatever bread’s available, hot out of the oven. Once they fall in love with our breads, they’re back for sandwiches, grain bowls and other menu items.”