Editor's note: This story was published Dec. 1, 2014, but the web version was lost because of a technical problem.
PETALUMA — Rising sales for a Windsor-based Revive Brands, maker of probiotic kombucha beverages, and for Rustic Bakery of Marin County have convinced each to expand to fill a 50,000-square-foot vacant production bakery in Petaluma in the first half of next year.
They are the latest of a string of expansions by food and beverage companies to and in Sonoma County’s second-largest city, an industry cluster that alone was recently figured to have a $1.3 billion impact on the local economy.
Revive has been needing to move for some time, passing on large orders because of production constraints. The craft brewery of a sort has flowed over into nine industrial incubator spaces totaling 9,000 square feet off Shiloh Road, forcing founder Sean Lovett and his crew to run forklifts through a parking lot in Shiloh Business Center. Now with 30,600 square feet of the former Barbara’s Bakery building at 3900 Cypress Dr., the 4-year-old company will be able to expand and automate production to slake the thirst of a growing distribution network.
“It was smart that we turned down those orders, because if we had taken them on, it could have been the end of us,” Mr. Lovett said. Two such big orders this year would have been supplying 175 stores each for grocers Safeway and Sprouts Farmers Market. The company learned about the sweet and sour of success last year when new hibiscus and coffee flavors sold so fast the crew was working 100-hour weeks to keep up, and a similar situation recurred this year with the release of the yerbe mate ginger flavor.
Sales this year are around $2 million. The crew of 20 is expected to double after moving into the new facility.
Meanwhile, the original dreams of Carol LeValley and Josh Harris to create a cracker company have had to remain somewhat on the shelf for nine years because of breakfast and lunch demand at the three rapidly growing cafés. Now, Rustic prepares to move wholesale operations from the cafés to 20,000 square feet of the Petaluma building, which the married couple has been eying for nearly a year.
“Wholesale has been hampered by the runaway success of the cafés,” Ms. LeValley said.
Sales this year are expected to be about $12 million, mostly from retail at the three locations: two in Larkspur and one in Novato. The company employs 180. The wholesale bakery is expected to have two shifts, with 30 during the day and 20 at night.
ROLLING IN RETAIL DOUGH
Ms. LeValley and Mr. Harris started Rustic in 2005 by buying a failed café for $40,000, wanting to crack into growing consumer interest in artisan cheese with a line of handmade toasted flatbreads. The business expanded after a year into Larkspur.
Rustic’s rising revenue caught fire in 2006 with the introduction of a private label flatbread for fellow Marin artisan producer Cowgirl Creamery of Pt. Reyes Station. Soon, Rustic will be making products down the street from Cowgirl’s Petaluma production facility.
That led to a wholesale business distributed through Cheeseworks, an Alameda-based specialty food distributor. That has taken Rustic products to all Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California, including the one to open this month in Novato and likely the second Mill Valley store in June. Other points of sale are Paradise Foods in Corte Madera, Woodlands Market in Kentfield, Mill Valley Market, The Oakville Markets and The Pasta Shops in Berkeley and Oakland.