Former Hostess bakery may open under new ownership

mdunham@adn.comMarch 25, 2013 

Anchorage's Sunrise Bakery may soon reopen. Franz Bakery, a century-old northwest regional company based in Portland, Ore., announced on Friday that Sunrise was among the properties of bankrupt Hostess Brands Inc. for which it had submitted the winning bid at auction.

Sunrise, in business at the corner of Spenard Rd. and Fireweed Lane for more than 50 years, shut down in November, after its owner, Hostess, was unable to reach an agreement with union workers at plants in the Lower 48.

It was the only large-scale wholesale bakery in Alaska when it closed. Operations included an outlet store at the bakery that sold directly to consumers. The bakery also had contracts with several local grocery stores, restaurants and the Anchorage School District.

"They supplied all of our hamburger buns, English muffins and sliced bread," said school district dietician LaDonna Dean.

Dean said her first step on hearing the news was to buy out "everything they had in stock." She then made an emergency purchase from Sky Blue Foods in Massachusetts to supply the schools while a new contract went out to bid. Sky Blue won the contact to cover the rest of the school year.

Shipping bread from Massachusetts is more expensive than bringing it from Spenard, Dean said. She wasn't sure of the cost of a hamburger bun from Sunrise, but said the buns from Sky Blue run 45 cents each and constitute "a jump in price."

Franz was one of many companies that vied for the school contract after Sunrise shut down. In a written statement, the company specifically mentioned the ASD as a customer it hopes to supply.

The bid on Hostess properties, which awaits approval by bankruptcy court, includes bakeries in Utah, Montana and Washington and certain product lines. It does not include the popular Twinkie snacks or Wonder Bread, which have been acquired by other companies.

On Monday, Franz marketing manager Jocelyn Larson could not say what mechanical or structural changes might be made at the Sunrise site. She did not know how many people would be employed at the reopened bakery or whether they would be union workers.

Workers at the Anchorage bakery were affiliated with the Teamsters and not part of the labor dispute between the company and workers outside Alaska.

Specifics will need to await court approval, said Danny Pettey with Franz's advertising agency. "The deal's not done yet," he said. "We'll have more information after it's finalized."

United States Bakery, Franz's corporate name, will request approval for the sale at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York on April 9.

Reach Mike Dunham at mdunham@adn.com or 257-4332.

 

 

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