When three TLC reality shows catapulted Bartolo “Buddy” Valastro and his Hoboken, N.J.-based Carlo’s Bakery to national fame, the bakery decided to use that fame to expand. Now having opened a separate production facility with plans to roll out a shipping division this spring, the bakery hopes to bring its product to consumers nationwide.
“The show is huge in so many parts of the country; it brought us places we never would have gotten to otherwise,” says Joe Faugno, head baker at Carlo’s Bakery. “And if you’re a fan of the show and a foodie, the next best thing is to taste our product. So our goal is to open stores all over the country.”
But the first step, he says, is making it. The bakery recently opened a 50,000-sq.-ft. production facility that combines new equipment with the traditional products and techniques the 100-year-old bakery has become known for. “We call it the family bakery on steroids,” Faugno says.
The new facility, located three blocks from the bakery in Jersey City, N.J., has become the primary production space since opening five months ago. Equipment includes a blast chiller, depositors, four fryers, two double rack ovens, two rotating ovens and six stand mixers that are in constant use.
During the past three years since Cake Boss first aired on TLC, the staff has grown from 40 to 150. “We’re not even working a third shift at the factory yet; we’ve fit everybody into two shifts,” Faugno says.
The bakery currently has seven trucks that ship product, including special occasion cakes, to any location within 300 miles of the bakery. It is rolling out nationwide shipping of select products in March, which customers will be able to order online.
The production facility isn’t the fulfillment of all expansion plans, Faugno says. “We have a lot of areas we can go to. We do want to open up additional locations.” The online ordering system will be similar to Carlo’s current in-store ordering program, which supports pickup orders of everything from cupcakes to mousse to fondant layer cakes to cannoli.
“We are working with the in-store order concept, which will help us when we really start shipping. We’re a little particular when it comes to shipping,” Faugno says. “I am not a believer that you can ship anything, so it has to be limited to certain products. You can’t just stick a fondant layer cake in a box and send it out to California.” The bakery plans to offer fresh baked cookies, biscotti, crumb cake and possibly cannoli shells, with the chilled filling packaged separately for the customer to fill to order. “The key is to keep quality,” Faugno says. “We want people to have a whole experience just like they do in the store. So as we spread ourselves out, we have to keep our hands in it to make sure it’s done the right way.”