Jennifer's Homemade may have graduated to a warehouse baking facility, but the same pasta-sheeter that Jennifer Behar retrofit for her flatbread dough, which she cut by hand and baked at home, matriculated along with the business.
"We moved two years ago. It was a raw space, and we had to build it out, but it still looks very industrial, which I like," explains Jennifer, who was out of the house after three months. "We knew pretty quickly that we weren't going to be able to operate the business from home for very long. We were in many other places before this..."
You've seen Jennifer's four year-old small business around. Her
baked goods line the shelves of such supermarket monoliths as Whole
Foods and Publix, and small specialty retailers. She's participated in
the South Beach Wine & Food Festival for three years, a decision
that got her noticed by Martha Stewart's producers and resulted in an
appearance on the domestic diva's daytime show. Jennifer is no
stranger to press, which she handles herself thanks to media savvy from
her undergraduate degree in communications and years as a successful
career as a New York City 'Mad woman.'
Daughter Stephanie, now
11, has been by Mom's side from the beginning at home, and comes to the
warehouse every day after school. "She likes to tell people what to
do," Jennifer smiles.
Jennifer employs eight, from her
bookkeeper to the ladies that do the baking from about 7 a.m. to 3:30
p.m. If something goes wrong or there's an urgent large order, she
gets right in there with them, like back in the day when she was in her
sweats kneading dough in her own kitchen.
Cinnamon lucked out
in the move. This spice, which will end up on
Sweet Cinnamon breadsticks and flatbread, gets its very own room so
that its delectably pungent smell doesn't settle where it's not
supposed to, like on the savory baked goods. Pull back the plastic
flaps and escape to its exotic origins. There are many things Jennifer
won't compromise on, and quality ingredients is one of the most
important to her product.
Then there's the two
double rack monster-sized ovens, which she custom-made to fit 30 trays
each to accommodate the 30-50 cases a day this mini factory churns out.
Turns out the ovens were being checked out by their doctor on our
visit, but quickly recovered after Mom filled a prescription.
loading area sit stacks of completed boxes with biscotti,
breadsticks and flatbread labels of all flavors. Jennifer's Rosemary
Flatbread is her original item and best seller to
this day. The Double Chocolate Chunk Biscotti is also very popular. Salt & Pepper was recently introduced, but this food entrepreneur is more focused on her core product line and new business, now exploring
food service and caterers as potential outlets. One wonders if these
pretty packages are headed to the new distributor in St.
there's one thing I've learned, it's to be open to anything, because
you never can know for certain where the business is going," Jennifer
adds. "I have room to grow here."
One thing that none of us
could have predicted is the severity of the economic downturn.
Jennifer's response? Eating rising ingredient costs -- flour being the
major culprit, up three times its price last year -- so her customers
don't have to. Something close to her heart is giving back to those
less fortunate, and in Jennifer's case it's through unwavering support of the Daily Bread Food Bank, a
part of Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest.) Since the beginning, she's donated a portion of her
proceeds and any extra baked goods. The environment gets a boost, too, from biodegradable packing peanuts made of corn.
Take advantage of Jennifer's summer special for Short Order readers, and purchase her product online here. Enter coupon code "Short Order" (without the quotation marks,) get 25 percent off on six ounce boxes, and munch away!
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