Angelic Bakehouse grows rapidly on the wings of consumer trends

Made in Milwaukee

Loaves of baked bread cool before being sliced and packaged at Angelic Bakehouse.

Angelic Bakehouse
3275 E. Layton Ave., Cudahy
Industry: Baked goods
Employees: 44 full-time, 20 temporary

Cudahy-based Angelic Bakehouse specializes in making breads, rolls, wraps and other baked goods using sprouted grains, which the company says are healthier than traditional bread dough.

Hector Rivera shovels sprouted grains into a grinder to be readied for bread dough.
Hector Rivera shovels sprouted grains into a grinder to be readied for bread dough.

Husband and wife team James and Jenny Marino purchased the company in 2009 and have been driving its rapid growth ever since. The company has moved to a larger facility in Cudahy and has grown from eight employees to 44 full-time and 20 temporary employees. It is on track to make 4 million products in 2015, and sales have been growing by 50 percent per year.

“We don’t expect that to slow down in the foreseeable future,” Jenny said. “I think we are at a really sweet spot with what is happening with food in this country and food trends.”

Millennials in particular are becoming more interested in where their food comes from and what’s in it. Angelic appeals to those consumers because it is non-GMO, local, and its ingredients can be pronounced easily, she said.

“They demand real food and they’re willing to pay for it,” James said. “We make a premium, healthy product in a more frugal beer, cheese and sausage town like Milwaukee. I think our success proves that healthy eating is not just a California fad.”

Sprouted grains are created by soaking whole grains in a proprietary time and temperature controlled environment until they sprout.

“It’s a fermentation process where the bitterness that’s in whole wheat flour goes away and it gives real positive flavor attributes,” James said.

Those grains are mixed and ground, then added to other ingredients in a 500-pound mixing bowl to make pizza dough, bread, rolls, buns or wraps. After mixing, the bread is proofed, baked, cooled, sliced and bagged.

“Because of what we do, you can really see all the particulates. You can really see and taste the whole grain,” Jenny said.

Loaves of baked bread cool before being sliced and packaged.
Loaves of baked bread cool before being sliced and packaged.

The company recently invested about $300,000 in a new machine that can form 3,000 loaves an hour.

When Angelic moved from Waukesha to its newly constructed 22,000-square-foot Cudahy facility in 2013, it had four ovens. Now it has nine. The company also has plans for further expansion on its lot.

“We acquired this property with expansion in mind, so we can quadruple,” Jenny said. “It will be sooner rather than later.”

The Marinos plan on continuous, consistent hiring, with the aim to get to 100 employees in the next couple of years.

Angelic targets high-end mass market retailers such as Sendik’s, Whole Foods and Outpost Natural Foods. But its highest volume comes from local warehouse grocery chain Woodman’s, and it recently struck a deal with Costco.

The company has three to four full-time employees who do store demonstrations full-time to introduce customers to Angelic products.

“We spend a lot of energy communicating with customers that we’re a big step above your commercial breads,” James said.

Angelic’s products are naturally sweetened with honey and molasses, and have a less bitter and chewier taste than flour-based breads, he said. They have fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates, more protein and more fiber than most breads, making them nutrient dense.

“Once we knew personally the benefits of sprouted grains and what you could do with them flavorwise, we didn’t want to eat anything else,” Jenny said.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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