MINNEAPOLIS - French Meadow Bakery, a two-unit organic/natural cafe operator here, is partnering with Supervalu to expand its concept in Supervalu's planned Sunflower Market chain.
"Supervalu saw our airport location, and thought it would be successful in their stores," said Lynne Gordon, founder and president, French Meadow.
Supervalu, which also is based here, said last year it plans to roll out the new Sunflower Market banner, a small-format, natural/organic retail concept emphasizing low prices, beginning later this month with the inaugural location in Indianapolis. A second unit is slated to open in Columbus, Ohio, in May or June, a spokeswoman for Supervalu told SN. She said the company continues to scout additional markets, although she declined to be more specific about company's plans to grow the chain.
French Meadow, in addition to its two cafes - one in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and another in South Minneapolis - also is a supplier of baked goods to supermarkets and restaurants.
The Sunflower Market stores will brand their bakery-deli areas with the French Meadow name and carry about 130 French Meadow products in reach-in displays, according to Gordon. Sunflower will staff the stores, but French Meadow will provide training, including teaching employees "how to talk to customers about the products," Gordon said.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Offerings will include muffins, scones and cookies that will be delivered to Sunflower frozen and baked off in the stores' ovens, in addition to breads, cakes, snack bars and various food-service items.
All of the company's breads - which include the popular Man's and Woman's varieties specifically designed to meet the health needs of the respective genders - are made with 100% organic ingredients and contain no yeast or dairy. Many of the other products are made with organic ingredients but may include non-organic components, as well.
Gordon described the company's pastries and desserts as having a "rustic, distinctively homemade" feel, "not the usual French perfectly made torts."
Plans for the food-service menu at Sunflower's French Meadow Bakeries, according to Gordon, call for two soup choices per day and a variety of wraps, ciabatta sandwiches and salads. Sandwiches currently offered at French Meadow's cafes include such creations as egg salad on hemp bread with havarti cheese; hormone-free turkey breast with sauerkraut, spinach and Swiss cheese; and a tempeh Rueben. Prices range from $6 to $9.
Among the cafTs' signature items are its "sweet little round cakes," which, like the sandwiches, feature distinctive ingredient combinations. Prices are about $2.99 for the confections, which include a Guinness pub cake, a wild rice cake and a chipotle-chocolate red cake.
Gordon said Sunflower may set lower price points - and reap lower margins - than she does in her stores.