OMAHA, Neb. -- Open preparation, European-style slanted tables, curved glass service cases and an extensive variety of hearth-style breads are all part of the bakery department at the new unit of Baker's here.
The store, which opened May 22, is the retailer's 11th and largest supermarket. The 75,000-square-foot store is located in the Eagle Run Shopping Center at 132nd and West Maple Road here.
The inspiration for the bakery, which is different from the retailer's other units, comes from European markets, said George Kapalczynski, director of food services and bakery. "We wanted to get away from the traditional cases. It's a total open concept, with theater in the back room, slate floors and European merchandising."
While Baker's used to be a totally scratch operation, now the retailer is using a combination of scratch-mix production and frozen dough.
"We took a hard look at our bakeries," Kapalczynski said. "We were scratch and decided that was not a total way to go. We decided there should be a mix. We were doing a lot of the bread items in a scratch mode, which becomes time-consuming. This way we are able to concentrate on mass movers."
Merchandising on the slant tables, which are on wheels and can easily be moved around, is new for the retailer, as is a freezer case for the department. "You can almost call it a mobile bakery," he said. The department is at the back left corner of the store after the dairy department.
While many bakery and deli executives say their departments belong first in the line-up in a store to create the all-important fresh image, Kapalczynski said he believes location "doesn't really make any difference." He said bakeries are placed in different locations in different Baker's units.
Crusty bread is a major highlight of the department, and is baked from frozen dough supplied by a Chicago company. The store also features European-style tortes and mousse cakes, which are mixed at the store.
Business has been booming at the new bakery, Kapalczynski said. "We're trying to go on continuous baking, and by necessity we are doing it now," he said. He called the store's doughnut business "unbelievable." "I've never seen so many doughnuts sell in the morning," he said. "We have people lined up at our cases on the weekends and on holidays." No one flavor stands out as particularly popular. They all sell well, Kapalczynski said of the 30 varieties offered. Raised doughnuts sell for six for $1.89. They are also sold individually.
For now, the doughnuts are sold only from the service case. "This store is probably 60% self-service," he said. "I think it needs to be higher. It's very labor-intensive to sell one and two doughnuts."
While Baker's is trying to cut down on variety in the bakery, the store still has some 200 items to choose from, Kapalczynski said. Other popular items are a Chop Block program, which features bread dough with bits of cheese or vegetables chopped into it, pies and decorated cakes.
The new store also features a restaurant, which, in a first for the retailer, has outdoor seating and serves wine and beer. Soon, Kapalczynski said, mimosa cocktails may be on the menu for brunch. The restaurant, called the Market Place Cafe, has a separate entrance. There is also a coffee bar, located within the produce department at the beginning of the traffic pattern.