bake - June 2018 - 17
The dough keeps rising at Kneaders
Bakery & Café, as it expands to 60 locations.
BY JOHN UNREIN
Once natural levains are allowed to ferment for 24
factor in Kneaders' impressive expansion across eight
to 48 hours, depending on the type of dough, the
states. In 2017, Kneaders opened four stores in two new
head baker at each Kneaders Bakery & Café location
markets located in Missouri and Kansas.
leads their team through the locked-down procedures of baking 12 types of daily bread selections, not
With new store openings this year in Idaho, Kansas
including seasonal options.
and Utah, the company is projecting $110 million in
sales in 2018 with an estimated 120 new hires across
"In each store, we have a head baker who is trained
to our speciﬁcations, so breads are consistent every
day," explains Neil Checketts, chief operating officer
Justin Alcorn serves as corporate executive baker at
Kneaders, having worked for the company for more
than a decade. He is certiﬁed in breads and rolls by the
After 21 years in business, this 60-store chain, one of
American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.
the fastest growing bakery cafes in the nation, has
the daily process of offering delicious artisan breads
"We have several individuals who have speciﬁc
to the public down to a science. Unlike Panera Bread
training from the San Francisco Baking Institute and
and others, there are no central production facilities
the American Institute of Baking," says Checketts.
at Kneaders (each retail store bakes its own bread),
"Our breads are baked from scratch in Italian
and the bread ﬂour comes from a single source.
imported ovens (Polin brand), and our hearth breads
are made with simple ingredients: ﬂour, water, salt,
"We use a very speciﬁc ﬂour blend," Checketts says.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN UNREIN
"We have an exclusive with Lehi Roller Mills, and they
contract with farmers in Idaho for a speciﬁc grain,
Checketts previously served as vice president of
with the right amount of protein. That Idaho grain
food safety and quality assurance at Kneaders. He
makes really great bread."
has extensive experience in project, people and
change management having worked in a wide
Since 1906, Lehi Roller Mills has been supplying
variety of segments within the food industry. From
premium ﬂours to customers ranging from consumers
2011 to 2015, he worked as vice president of food
to corporate accounts.
safety for Sobeys, a national retailer in Canada with
1,600 stores. During his tenure with Sobeys, his role
Kneaders' full-service, on-site working bakeries
included oversight of regulatory affairs, private label
powered by artisan bakers continue to be unique within
quality programs and quality control functions for the
the fast-casual restaurant industry, a key contributing
bakemag.com | JUN 2018 > 17