bake - June 2018 - 17

The dough keeps rising at Kneaders
Bakery & Café, as it expands to 60 locations.
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

all markets.

to our specifications, so breads are consistent every
day," explains Neil Checketts, chief operating officer

Justin Alcorn serves as corporate executive baker at

for Kneaders.

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.

natural levain."


"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

entire organization. | JUN 2018 > 17

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