Sonoma County's Kozlowski Farms pie business sold to Healdsburg's Costeaux French Bakery

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As they have been for deccades, Kozlowski Farms pies and tarts will continue to be made in Sonoma County, but going forward the treats will be produced by the Seppi family, owners of Healdsburg-based Costeaux French Bakery.

“We’re very happy with the joining of our two companies,” Carol Kozlowski-Every, part of the second generation of the family, told the Business Journal Tuesday.

Will Seppi, president and CEO of Costeaux, said they have aligned core values.

“We are very excited to see this transition come to fruition, coupled with great pride in being able to take on the Kozlowski brand is a great responsibility to preserve and continue its legacy,” he wrote in an email.

Costeaux will produce and distribute the Kozlowski baked goods from the same recipes, continue the donation program to local nonprofits, and has hired employees involved with those items, the families announced. The purchase price was not disclosed.

In August, two Kozlowski employees who have been making pies for a combined 30-plus years will be transitioning along with equipment over to the 65,000-square-foot Costeaux Baking Centre wholesale production facility near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

“We anticipate maintaining and growing the production of Kozlowski Farms pies through the existing Costeaux distribution network, which consists primarily of the greater North Bay area,” Seppi said.

Pies will continue to be available at local retailers such as Andy’s Produce, Oliver’s Markets, Big John’s Market in Healdsburg, and Costeaux plans to take the items to its network of specialty retailers in Mendocino County as well.

Costeaux now employs about 130 across its production, retail and other operations. There would be other job opportunities at Costeaux for the other Kozlowski employees in coming months, he said. Kozlowski employed 20 as of two years ago, including six family members, as of 2017, but the number of workers currently couldn’t be confirmed Tuesday.

The sale of the baked-goods business follows an effort by the Kozlowski family since 2017 to find a buyer for the 21-acre property in the west county community of Forestville, according to the Press Democrat. Earlier this year, the family secured county approval for a 35,000-case winery and tasting room there.

The property, which was planted with 15 acres of planted pinot noir vines almost two decades ago, reportedly garnered five purchase offers as of April, the paper reported.

“There’s nothing to talk about with the property right now,” Kozlowski-Every said Tuesday, referring other questions to Seppi, who declined further comment.

Keeping the Kozlowski pie brand and production local was important for the family in taking that part of the business further, the family said in the latest announcement.

The business started in 1949, when Tony and Carmen Kozlowski purchased an apple farm. The operation expanded from baked goods sold in local stores in 1969 when raspberries where planted in the orchard, and that led to jams, jellies, fruit butters and vinegars distributed in over 20 states. Sourcing for fruit eventually shifted to Oregon, Washington and Canada.

The future of the other Kozlowski products was unclear Tuesday, but Seppi said he plans to use the brand’s existing fruit sourcing for the pies and tarts.

A reason for listing the property for sale in 2017 was the cost of production at the 10,000-square-foot facility in the west county, according to the Press Democrat. The Kozlowskis opened that production area, store and administrative offices in 2013, after working from a smaller barn-style building for 45 years, the Business Journal reported at the time.

Costeaux started in 1923 in Healdsburg as French American Bakery. The Seppi family purchased it in 1981. The company distributes its breads, cookies, and cakes throughout Sonoma County and the greater North Bay area. In addition to the main bakery café in Healdsburg, it has shops inside Big John’s Market in Healdsburg, Costeaux On The Go store at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport terminal and Tia Maria bakery café in Santa Rosa’s Roseland neighborhood.

In 2006, Costeaux opened its wholesale bakery near the airport.

“With a more centralized production and distribution point, Costeaux has been able to continue its slow but steady growth plan as the company celebrates its 96th year as a bakery in Sonoma County,” Seppi said.

This story has been updated with comments from Will Seppi, including how many Kozlowski employees are making the transition, employment at Costeaux and plans for distribution of pies.

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