VALPARAISO, Ind. -- Family Express, a chain of 63 convenience stores in north central Indiana, has invested $1.5 million in the expansion of its bakery, reported The Northwest Indiana Times.
Last week, Family Express started up its new bakery line that nearly triples the production capacity, from 17,000 baked goods a day to 50,000, president and CEO Gus Olympidis told the newspaper.
The growing demand for fresh doughnuts, muffins, cookies and brownies had put a strain on the bakery, which cooks fresh baked goods at Family Express's Valparaiso, Ind., headquarters seven days a week.
Family Express also has been doubling and tripling the size of bakery display cases in its convenience stores, according to the report.
"Our entire line of baked goods has been growing in popularity," Olympidis said. "We have the iconic Square Donuts, but our Mega Muffins are almost becoming as iconic in the markets we have stores in. It's the consumer's confidence in our product, and that comes with having something in your repertoire for a long time."
Family Express overhauled its whole baking process, switching from cold glazing to hot glazing that heats doughnuts to more than 100 degrees to seal in moisture and lock in freshness for longer, said the report.
"The hot glazing gives us the opportunity to ensure freshness for longer," he said. That allows night-shift workers "to transition to more desirable hours. It's a leap in our ability to produce, a leap in the freshness of products that will taste just as good the next day and a leap in the quality of life for our employees."
Workers are excited to be able work a schedule that will allow them to pick their kids up from school or go to the movies at the end of their shift, Olympidis said.
The company also has launched online ordering and will deliver more than $30 worth of baked goods to businesses, church groups, family gatherings or other customers.
Last summer, Family Express also upgraded its coffee offering with the rollout of Franke espresso dispensers to all of its convenience storesas part of its new Europrean Café concept. The high-end system grounds fresh gourmet beans, infuses Family Express-branded milk or other flavors and creates hot foam. Customers place the cup (with or without ice), use a touchscreen to navigate menu options and press their selection. The machine goes to work to make the drink.
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