A business is nothing without its employees, and bakeries are no exception. This especially holds true for this year’s Retail Bakery of the Year, LaSalle Bakery in Providence, R.I.
Through the years, owners Michael and Cheryl Manni have learned that a successful bakery must be operated the same as any other business, and happy employees who take ownership can only improve business. At LaSalle Bakery, it is obvious that the staff takes pride in their work and in the bakery.
I have been fortunate enough to cover each Retail Bakery of the Year winner since the award’s inception in 2004. What really stood out this year was the enthusiasm of the staff at LaSalle and the pride they took in the fact that their place of employment won the award. During my many phone calls with Michael to set up my visit, he always mentioned how excited the staff was and how happy they were that “their” bakery had won. That was clearly evident from the moment I walked through the bakery’s door (at an hour this editor usually sleeps through).
As Michael took me on the tour of his two locations, he was kind enough to introduce me to every employee we came across. It was clear from their expressions and the way they spoke about the bakery and their jobs that they all feel an ownership in the business. What they do matters.
Clearly the Mannis are doing something right. Michael can rattle off a list of names of people who have worked for the bakery for 20-plus years. One of the cake decorators has been with LaSalle for 33 years, and the Mannis have only owned it for three years longer. While you would expect long-term employees to feel invested in the business, I was pleasantly surprised at how much ownership the shorter-term staff felt in the bakery as well.
The rather croweded photo on page 28 came about because everyone from both locations felt they belonged in it (and rightly they did). The staff from the Admiral Street location hurried over to Smith Street to be included. Everyone felt they had played a personal role in LaSalle’s achieving Retail Bakery of the Year status. And the Mannis are smart enough to recognize that this is true.
Much like no man is an island, no bakery is a success without a dedicated staff. Hats off to all 60 of LaSalle Bakery’s employees–you all deserve the award.