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Breadheads help Grateful Bread rock sales and expand to more stores

Grateful Bread Company in Sacramento has been around for 30 years and is focusing on new opportunities for reinvention.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As Sacramento County businesses get into reopening phases, growth during a pandemic might seem unlikely. But Grateful Bread Company in Sacramento has already seen an increase in sales and potential for expansion. And it all started with bread.

"Probably about 80% of our customers were restaurants, so for us it was a big hit in the fact that all the restaurants started closing," Kelley Souza, Grateful Bread Company manager recalled. "What saved us was being in the grocery stores. The bread was flying off the shelves."

Sousa said bread sales tripled when shops started closing their doors and grocery items were selling out in stores. Because of restaurant closures, she said their sales model flipped.

"We were going from 75% to 80% restaurants to 80% grocery," Sousa said. 

Sousa and the owners quickly pivoted to increasing production to more grocery stores. While their natural bread could be found at several Sacramento and Placer County stores before, Grateful Bread Company is now sold at Safeway stores as well. 

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Patrick Harbison owns PHPR Public Relations and has been watching what has been working among Sacramento area businesses and advising clients on how to work through pandemic times.

"It's been really encouraging to see how quickly people have been able to adapt," Harbison said. 

Harbison says adjusting to the fluid situation is key.

"As you see surrounding counties around Sacramento area be able to open things like restaurants and some retail in curbside capacity, once that starts to apply to Sacramento in particular, I think businesses that are going to be a able to really succeed are going to have to adapt quickly," Harbison explained. "And really stay on top of what those new laws and regulations are."

While Sousa and her team are focused on grocery sales, they are also looking forward to getting their product back to their partnering restaurants.

"For one, we want to keep going and keep growing," Sousa explained "And two, while we wait for those restaurants to come back online, a lot of our restaurant partners that we’ve been with for years are starting to come back."

Grateful Bread Company bakery is located in Loehmann's Plaza Shopping Center in Sacramento and has been in business for 30 years. In February, they expanded to a space next door, where customers can enjoy their sit-in cafe. 

"I would love to say we have plans to open back up the cafe, and start brewing coffee and we want to start making breakfast quiches and sandwiches. We want to do some fun stuff, but we just don’t know yet," Sousa said.  

For years, Grateful Bread Company has also donated unsold bread to homeless shelters in Sacramento. 

"We always want to give back to the community," Sousa explained. "And especially during these times."

As the rules around social distancing and patronizing businesses change, Sousa hopes to bring new customers to Grateful Bread Company. 

"I just know how great our bread is and I want everyone to enjoy it," Sousa explained. "We’ve been around for so long. We’re trying to kind of push and grow and just explore as much as we can to get the next level. And really make sure that everyone in Sacramento wants to eat our bread."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Barbara Bingley.

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