We can probably expect Burlington’s Koffee Kup Bakery and the Vermont Bread Company in Brattleboro to resume baking sometime in July, according to one of their new Canadian co-owners.
The sale is still pending, and the sale price also won’t be disclosed. However, both bakeries have apparently already been on their new owners’ radar for years.
Blair and Rosalyn Hyslop live in Sussex, New Brunswick, where they own Mrs. Dunster’s Bakery. Grocery stores throughout Maine and Atlantic Canada stock their baked goods. For the last few years, they tried to reach a deal to distribute Koffee Kup products in Maine. In exchange, Koffee Kup would distribute Mrs. Dunster’s products elsewhere in New England.
“Those conversations didn’t really go anywhere — I guess probably we know now why — but we had always maintained contact,” Blair Hyslop said.
The couple has formed a new company, called North Atlantic Baking. It will buy Koffee Kup and Vermont Bread, whose existing products — bread, doughnuts, rolls and English muffins — will continue to be sold under their familiar names.
“This is going to be a family-owned and operated business,” Blair Hyslop said. “Rosalyn and I work in the business every day; our kids work in the business. We’re really aligned to the values here in Vermont and in New England, and we’re really excited to be part of this.”
At Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s Friday news conference, we learned that a key component of the deal fell into place on Thursday. That’s when the Hyslops were approved for a state grant.
“I think it was $1.8 million,” Vermont Commerce Commissioner Lindsay Kurrle said by phone during the news conference. “No money has been transferred to them at this point. The way that program works is, once they achieve their goals and maintain and achieve the numbers of having people on payroll — that’s when they start to receive their payout.”
Blair and his wife intend to get one shift up and running in each bakery at first, and two shifts within two years. They would bring back 180 of the bakeries’ 247 combined employees to accomplish that — and if sales are strong, they won’t stop there.
“We have some cleaning to do, we have some organizing to do, we have some planning to do — so, to some degree, we’ll start right away,” Blair said. “But generally speaking, in terms of a consumer standpoint — which is when we’ll have probably the most people back to work — is probably six to eight weeks.”
The Hyslops are not a party to the federal lawsuit against Koffee Kup and Vermont Bread. The previous owners are accused of breaking the law by terminating the workers on April 26 without notice.
Local 22 and Local 44 News also reached out on Friday to the Vermont Department of Labor for comment on the pending sale. However, we were told Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington was out of the office and unavailable.