The Grateful Bread Company had been slowly building up steam since it was founded a decade ago by baker Jeff Cleary — but over the past year the Golden operation has been expanding rapidly, gaining national attention for both its artisan bread (which is still made almost entirely by hand) and its business success. This month the bakery is being honored with a prominent placing at the upcoming Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and recognition as one of 50 Colorado Companies to Watch.
Grateful Bread has been selected as one of twenty companies to participate in the Local Food Showcase at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic that runs from June 19-21 in that resort town. The bakery will be providing ciabatta, levain boule, country batard, jalapeño cheddar batard, cranberry walnut batard and red quinoa bread for all three days of the festival, and will host two tastings during the weekend's activities. Grateful Bread's French baguettes will also stock eighteen palate-cleansing stations in the Grand Tastings Pavilion, and be served at a wine and cheese seminar presented by James Beard award-winning author Laura Werlin.
Grateful Bread co-owner Kathy Mullen says the bakery will provide more than 15,000 individual pieces of bread over three days, with bread coming out of the oven early Friday morning so that the delivery truck can hit the road for Aspen at 2 a.m. Mullen and Cleary will be enjoying the festivities once the initial setup is complete, and they've also made sure the bakers putting in extra time for the event will be able to relax and enjoy the Classic. "I'm really happy to be able to do this for our employees," Mullen adds.
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Since 2009, Colorado Companies to Watch has been selecting businesses for its list that demonstrate energy and innovation while creating Colorado jobs and top-tier products and services. While the majority of the businesses selected this year are from outside the food industry, Grateful Bread joins nine other food-related companies on this year's list. Governor John Hickenlooper gave out the awards at a banquet last Friday.
The Golden bakery expanded its facilities last summer and is in the process of adding a custom-made flour mill this summer. When Cleary started the company in 2005, he was the sole employee. But those days are long-gone. “We have worked very hard for ten years," he notes, "growing from one employee to 23 with plans to expand dramatically in the next few years.”