Longtime Colorado Springs Bakery Closes | Premium
Great Harvest Bread Co. baked its last whole wheat loaf with honey, harvested white bread and cinnamon chips in Colorado Springs – not to mention its latest cookies, muffins, cinnamon buns, lemon bars, sticky buns. and other tasty treats.
The only Great Harvest Bread Co. in Springs closed in early September in the Union Town Center mall on the north side, northwest of Union Boulevard and Research Parkway. The Montana Bakery and Coffee Franchise had been operating in Springs for about a quarter of a century.
Husband and wife owners Mark Jewell and Ainley Doyle-Jewell, who have run the Great Harvest Bread franchise in Springs for 16 years after it was operated by other owners, had been looking to sell the business for almost four years. .
Ainley’s health was one of the main reasons the couple were looking to sell, Mark said. She suffers from a poor genetic spine – a slowly worsening condition that makes it painful to perform physically demanding work that requires standing most of the day, as well as lifting and carrying objects. , did he declare.
At the same time, the lease on their Union Town Center storefront was due to be renewed, and Ainley and Mark would have had to commit to an additional five years in the mall for rent of up to $ 500,000 over that period, said Mark.
The couple struck a deal with a potential buyer in early 2020, before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark said. The buyer withdrew, however, and they couldn’t find another one, he said.
As a result, the couple closed Great Harvest on September 2.
“We are in a good position,” said Mark. “We don’t owe anyone money. Certainly, we would rather sell it. We had always thought, ‘we knew we would be done,’ but we thought someone would continue with this. But the market tells us somehow. so that’s not the case. “
Although the pandemic caused an initial disruption, sales rebounded “very well” and business had been good, Mark said.
“The business was solid but no one seemed to care, ”he said.
Great Harvest Bread was founded in 1976 in Great Falls, MT, according to its website.
Today, there are over 200 Great Harvest franchises in the United States that serve baked goods, breakfast items, sandwiches, and salads; Seven stores operate in the Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Grand Junction area, the Great Harvest website says.
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Great Harvest says it allows its sites to operate as so-called freedom franchises; local owners have greater flexibility in managing their outlets and are encouraged to pursue a sequence of individuality.
Mark said he and Ainley had to pay a royalty to Great Harvest’s parent company, protect confidential information such as recipes and processes, grind Great Harvest-approved wheat on-site, and share recipes if they invented them. themselves.
Otherwise, Mark said, they could set their own times, prices and menu, change recipes, and buy their own equipment and supplies, among other freedoms.
“We could do anything and anything we wanted, which was good for us,” said Mark.
Mark and Ainley had also operated Great Harvest locations along Garden of the Gods Road northwest of Colorado Springs and along Voyager Parkway on the north side. Both opened around 2008 or 2009, Mark said.
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But the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, which destroyed nearly 350 homes on the northwest side, led to a sharp drop in business for the Garden of the Gods location, Mark said. He and Ainley closed it in August 2014.
That same year, they opened in the Union Town Center. That location, however, effectively cannibalized sales from the Voyager store, which closed in 2015, Mark said.
Regardless of location, Great Harvest Bread had a loyal following, he said. While most customers came from a 3-5 mile radius, he said, others from Pueblo or Buena Vista were keen to stop if they were visiting Colorado Springs.
As operators of Great Harvest, Mark said he and Ainley set out to do two things: make phenomenal bread and make a busy customer’s visit to the store their best stop for the day.
“Because of that,” he said, “we’ve had people who are like, they don’t want to go anywhere else, no one is going to treat me like they do. And the bread isn’t so. well, why would I go elsewhere?… Our comments when we closed, people kind of told us, yeah, those are two things they were there for.“
The couple also enjoyed the relationships with their employees; one had worked for Great Harvest for 14 years, another for eight years, and several for five to six years.
“These are also rich relationships,” said Mark. “It’s important to us, just like it was to our relationships with our customers.”
Mark, 65, said he plans to retire, but could also do part-time process consulting and problem-solving work as an entrepreneur for a New Jersey company.
Ainley, 54, has a background in supply chain management and might consider looking for a clerical job in the industry that wouldn’t be so physically taxing, he said.
“We are sad that it is closed as well,” said Mark. “We always thought we would be able to hand it over to someone else. Other than that, we’re in a pretty good position. We feel bad that people say, ‘Where can I go? And there is no right answer to that. There aren’t a lot of people doing what we do.