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Family Express Invests Dough in Bakery Expansion

VALPARAISO, Ind. — Family Express boosted its ability to meet customer demand for baked goods, including its popular Square Donuts.

The Valparaiso-based chain completed a $1.5-million expansion of its bakery, adding 10 new workers to the operation as well. The convenience store operator fired up the new bakery line last week, nearly tripling its production capacity from 17,000 baked goods a day to now 50,000, President and CEO Gus Olympidis told The Times of Northwest Indiana.

According to the report, Family Express' growing portfolio — which has increased by about 15 percent over the past few years — triggered the need for an expanded bakery operation. The retailer's fresh doughnuts, muffins, cookies and brownies are baked at Family Express' headquarters seven days a week. 

"We could not meet customer demand," Olympidis said. "It was an absolute necessity to support our stores."

The increased bakery capacity has other benefits, too, the chief executive told the news outlet.

"The hot glazing gives us the opportunity to ensure freshness for longer, even if you leave it on [the] kitchen counter overnight," he said. "It's a huge deal for our people, who have had to work in the middle of the night for over a decade, and can 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." 

Bakery workers previously had to start at midnight to make enough to supply all the Family Express stores, but the new equipment and bigger production capacity lets them start work at 6 a.m.  

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. The company also launched online ordering and will deliver more than $30 worth of baked goods to businesses, church groups, family gatherings and other customers. 

The c-store chain has been doubling and tripling the size of the bakery display cases in its convenience stores.

"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 operates 63 convenience stores throughout northwest and north central Indiana. The company began making its Square Donuts from the central bakery in 2005.

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