Masada Bakery: Building on an entrepreneurial base

by Laurie Gorton
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Masada Bakery recently launched its own line of organic bread.
 

It’s not by chance that Masada Bakery takes its name from a historic site in Israel. The Stein brothers, who are Israeli Jews from the Qumran region of the West Bank, wanted their bakery customers to make the connection with their history.

During the 1970s, the brothers’ parents lived in the Atlanta area. Hezi Stein came to the US in 1976 to set up a restaurant to support the family while he studied art. “I couldn’t find good pita bread, so I started my own bakery,” he said. Not only couldn’t he find pita, he couldn’t find European-style healthy breads either.

“I had the equipment to bake more than our restaurant needed, so I started making and selling those products as well,” he said. Eventually he closed the restaurant and moved the bakery into a separate location. And in 1989, he enlisted his brother, an architecture student, to run the operations side of the bakery.

The Bakery Company (TBC), formerly Tennessee Bun Co., originated with that most American of enterprises, McDonald’s, and it is equally entrepreneurial. TBC’s founder and CEO Cordia Harrington previously owned three McDonald’s restaurants in Central Illinois. While she served as chairman of the St. Louis purchasing committee, she became intrigued by the supply side of foodservice, specifically, the buns. When McDonald’s launched its minority suppliers initiative, she put her name in for the next bakery development opportunity.

That resulted in TBC’s first high-speed bun bakery at Dickson, TN, opened in 1997. Her business thrived. She added two more production locations and a frozen distribution business. In 2014, TBC acquired Masada.

Among her many honors, Ms. Harrington was awarded Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 for the Southeast. The alumni association at her alma mater, University of Arkansas, named her its 2016 Johnson Fellow.
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