Bread Business Provides Whole Grains for a Great Cause

Bread Business Provides Whole Grains for a Great Cause
Jim and Lupe Costello and their two boys, James and Justin, opened a bakery almost 10 years ago in Thousand Oaks, CA. Jim came from a Business Management and Finance background. Lupe works in the high tech aeronautic industry. Their son James is going into the Navy this summer -- he qualified in the top percentile of his class to work in the nuclear propulsion field. 

One would wonder what drew this family to the bread business?

Great Harvest Thousand Oaks owners

Years ago, when asked why they wanted to open a Great Harvest bakery, Jim responded:

There are many things to admire about Great Harvest bread stores and franchise system. The mission statement closely matches my own philosophy that a business should be a fun place to work, that all employees should strive for quality by doing everything to the best of their ability, that customer satisfaction is of paramount importance, and that by being generous and actively involved, one can become a vital part of the community, rather than just another storefront.  I see great potential for the symbiotic relationship in which a business supports its community and the community, in turn, supports the business.

The Costellos have been living that generosity in their community since they opened their bakery. According to Jim, generosity isn’t just donating products, it’s about active involvement. For example, Jim serves as an advisor on a Regional Occupational Board to help develop curriculum for high school students to learn a variety of trades.  

Thousand Oaks owner and familyJim and sons, James and Justin, at the Great Harvest annual convention

The following is an update from Jim about another community event they’ve been involved in since their bakery opened:

The Great Race of Agoura has been staged in Agoura Hills, CA for 28 years as a benefit to raise funds for local schools. It has grown to include 2 half-marathons (one on trails, one on roads), a 10K, 5K, and a family fun run. Runner’s World magazine has rated the 10K as one of the top six in the country, and has rated the Great Race half-marathon as the best in the country. In the Los Angeles area, L.A. Sports and Fitness Magazine recognizes The Great Race as having L.A.’s best post-race party. The party includes live musical entertainment, lots of free food for runners from local and national sponsors, giant inflatables for kids, and a health and fitness expo. We have been a part of the post-race party since we opened in 2004. Every year we sponsor a booth and hand out free slices of fresh, wholesome whole-grain breads with plenty of butter, honey and natural fruit spreads and samples of our handmade Trek energy bars that we feature at our nearby bakery.

Each year, the highlight of the post-race party is the pancake breakfast provided free to all runners. In the past, a national food chain provided the labor and sponsored the breakfast. We provided our whole wheat and oat pancake mix to them for two years in 2008 & 2009, but they handled it all on their own since then. This year, I got a phone call from the race coordinator (one of our regular customers) about three weeks before the race saying that this national chain was pulling out as a sponsor of the pancake breakfast, could I help? I explained that I’d be happy to provide the pancake mix, and even pointed out that the runners would appreciate the fact that our pancakes are 100% whole grain, but, I have NO experience in cooking for 5,000+ people!

whole grain pancakes banner

Over the next few weeks we worked it out to where Great Harvest would provide all the ingredients for the pancakes, and labor to make the batter (in addition to sponsoring our normal bread booth.) The race committee would rent the cooking, serving, and cleaning facilities, and other sponsors would provide the toppings, and Fire Department volunteers would do the cooking. We used 200 pounds of Pancake mix, 30 dozen eggs, 3 gallons of oil and about 30 gallons of water and made over 5,000 jumbo pancakes in less than three hours for the runners that morning. Race volunteers helped with serving. We were running three commercial-size griddles and serving two lines of customers at a time. At one time we ran out of toppings (syrup and fruit) so I donated the honey and fruit spread from our bread booth. It was chaotic, but a lot of fun.
whole grain pancakes line

Hats off to the Costellos for “giving generously to others” and for being an integral part of the Thousand Oaks community! 

Are you looking for a business that helps you give back to your community too? Find out more about Great Harvest and the Bread Business:

Learn about starting your own bakery



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