It will be with heavy heart that Steve and Alecia Jawor of Olivette relocate their business Great Harvest Bread at 9449 Olive Blvd. to Maplewood sometime around Mother’s Day.
But the economy has taken its toll on this business in the Olivette Plaza. Sales had been building steadily for eight years, but had gone flat the last two. The landlord, TMC Realty would not work with them on reducing the rent.
Maplewood officials asked the owners to move into a food district with incentives like forgivable loans and signage reimbursement, so the deal was consummated. The store will be located at 7360 Manchester, in the heart of downtown Maplewood, across from the Shop ‘N Save store. There will be more opportunities for walk-in business.
Proprietor Steve Jawor, a champion of good fellowship and community relations wanted to thank everyone in Olivette for supporting his business.
"Scott Smith was the mayor when we opened. All of the mayors; City Manager Mike McDowell, Mike Gartenberg (the public works director); Police Chief (Rick) Knox were always so supportive of everything we did.
"We just want to thank them and all the residents," he said. "Without them, we wouldn’t have survived 10 years."
Great Harvest opened April 11, 2003. "We had all these Jewish folks coming in looking for Challah bread at the time of Passover. They said 'we love your place, we’ll all be back in three days.'"
"The whole concept of Great Harvest is that of a community bakery. The breads we are baking are all influenced by the people who come in to buy it."
The Jawor’s daughter grew up in the business. Their daughter Jess is a Ladue High graduate who goes to University of Missouri-St. Louis and still helps out at the store.
The biggest roadblock is moving the enormous oven.
"Actually, the guy who sold me this oven is selling me a new one that will be in the Maplewood store and will take this one as a trade in," he said.
"My best memories about being in Olivette are the wonderful friends and people that we have met. When you run a business like this, you get to see people on a regular basis. You see their children. My daughter went to school with them. We like to make our customers feel like they are coming into our house, or their house. We hope folks will follow us to Maplewood."
Great Harvest even takes honey bread and makes Honey Bunnies for Easter and Honey Bears for Christmas.
A lady once asked the store to make a Schnauzer dog head out of our nine grain bread.
"She loved it, we did the best we could, but we’ve never made a Schnauzer before," he said.