This fall, they opened Breadwinner, a retail store and cafe specializing in seasonal breads and gifts in Sandy Springs, Ga.
They brought a dozen of the breads to Souper Jenny, an upscale Atlanta soup, sandwich and catering restaurant, to see how they would be received, and they sold out within a half an hour. The trio went on to sell 550 breads at Souper Jenny baking from their home double oven.
The Malkonians devised clever names for their breads, Papa Don’t Peach bread and Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Cran cranberry orange bread for instance. The names were good for a chuckle for the Breadwinner team, but they also served as fantastic branding tools.
Breadwinner was able to stand out and lodge itself in the memory of potential customers who had never tried the bread. The lighthearted names also caught media attention.
They got a big break when Daily Candy, a daily Web mailing that focuses on successful female-driven businesses, featured the fledgling company. Geoff believes that such exposure really got the ball rolling for their business, and in September last year, they moved into a small bakery.
In January of 2007, the Food Network came calling. Road Tasted, a program featuring the sons of Food Network star Paula Deen on a cross country food-tasting journey, selected Breadwinner as one of their stops.
Since its inception, Breadwinner’s business was driven primarily through its Web site and phone orders. When it had to move to a new bakery that would accommodate its expanding business, adding a retail element placed Breadwinner in a new dimension. Geoff says that it happened as an afterthought.
“We found a 3,000-sq.-ft. space with the option to grow to 6,000 sq. ft. We wanted to take the place, but it was more space than we needed. So, we added a retail cafe portion,” Geoff says. “It’s a little bit off the beaten path, but we have been doing really well on word of mouth alone. We get two or three people per week who saw us on the Food Network and are visiting from Atlanta or elsewhere.”
The space had to go through a major transformation to be a retail-ready specialty store and cafe. Cinda Boomershine, a design expert that can be seen on TBS’s show Movie and a Makeover, designed the shop. A chocolate brown awning with white piping welcomes customers at the door. Inside, breads are showcased on an antique display table. Bistro tables and cozy-looking chairs are scattered across a chocolate brown floor embossed with the Breadwinner logo. Green plants throughout lend an organic feel. The main focal point is a giant original photo of Melkonian Fine Foods, the family deli that opened during the 1940s in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Current seasonal breads from Breadwinner include Better Than a Bubble Bath Mocha Chocolate Chip, Party at My Place Pumpkin, and The Legend of Sleepy Challah, along with cranberry orange.