In 2012, Udi's Foods, one of the most prominent food brands in Colorado -- and across the country -- was sold to Boulder Brands for $125 million in a sale that required a number of prerequisites, including the stipulation that the owners of Udi's Foods would rebrand its company and dispense with the Udi's name by July of this year. And while the owners of the company, which is renowned for it gluten-free bakery goods, the products of which are sold on supermarket shelves here, there and everywhere, could have parked themselves in a corner of one of their many Colorado cafes and thrown potential names into a bread bowl, they turned to the community instead, putting the fate of the brand's new name into the hands of the people who eat their bread. "Udi's Foods was created with family and community in mind, and putting control in the hands of our fans is a natural extension of our brand," said Etai Baron, when I interviewed him and his dad, Udi, the patriarch of the company, earlier this year.
To that end, the Bar-on family, which also includes daughter-and-chef Robin, as well as a large extended kin, have spent the past three months launching a "rename Udi's" contest, encouraging the public to submit name suggestions. The result of those submissions -- there were thousands -- is a parent company called "Baron Group" and three sub-brands: Izzio, Etai's and Silvi's.
"The support for all three finalists prompted us to alter our plans to take one new company name," explains Etai, CEO of the Baron Group. Instead, he says, "We were inspired to zig when we originally planned to zag, so we adopted all three fan favorites: Izzio, Etai's and Silvi's, and we chose those three finalists based on relevance to the brand and the family's heritage."
The 30,000-square-foot Louisville-based bakery is now Izzio Artisan Bakery, named for head baker Maurizio Negrini; the cafes and catering business are all called Etai's Cafe and Etai's Catering; and the full-service restaurants -- Udi's Cafe, Pizza and Bar, among them -- are now Silvi's Kitchen, the name of which honors Udi's mother. "The names are almost serendipitous," says Etai. "We have personal connections to each of the new company names, so we were a little surprised to see them offered by fans, but it truly takes a village to build a brand, and our fans have showed us a tremendous amount of support."
Initially, the Bar-ons were planning to reward the one winner with a twenty-person party at any Udi's cafe or restaurant, worth up to $1,000, but since the family chose three names, there are three winners, all of whom will receive that same prize.
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And between now and June, funeral celebrations will take place at each restaurant to retire the old signs and erect new ones, and then, in mid-June, the Bar-ons will host a New Orleans-style block party at the Stapleton store to bid a final farewell to the brand that made them a national success story. "We look forward to watching our former brand grow and prosper...this time from a distance," concludes Etai.