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Breadsmith finds it way without a new oven

Fire prompted some changes at Greenfield bakery, but customers return

Dec. 6, 2011

Greenfield - Breadsmith has now reopened after a fire shut it down on April 1.

Bob Pohle said he originally thought his bakery at 76th Street and Layton Avenue would reopen in matter of a few weeks, but insurance and contractor negotiations dragged on, delaying that goal for seven long months.

The big hangup was replacing the oven, where the fire started and became so hot that it turned the oven's insulation to glass, Pohle said.

Eventually, it was determined that the oven would have to be replaced. But bakery ovens come with a price tag of some $110,000, Pohle said.

The oven question still hadn't been resolved by the Breadsmith's opening in early November. All the baking is being done temporarily off-site.

Customer interaction

But the customers don't seem to care as familiar faces streamed back into the shop on opening day.

"The first day we opened, I think the customers were calling each other," Pohle said with a laugh.

Kristi Carlson, marketing manager for the five Breadsmiths in the Milwaukee area, said, "I was there and people went on and on how excited they are that it's open."

She noticed that Pohle was just as happy as his patrons.

"Bob missed the customers" over the long months, Carlson said.

Owner turned manager

A big change that the fire brought was that Pohle and wife Kathy, who owned and operated the Greenfield Breadsmith for 15 years, decided to go into semi-retirement and sold the store back to the franchise.

"Age 65 is a good time to retire," Pohle said.

Now, he's store manager and declared, "This is fun."

He doesn't have to order supplies anymore and when a bill comes in, he just passes it along.

He gets to do the best part, which is taking care of customers, he said.

And the Pohles are good at it, that's why it is important that they be able to continue that personal service, Carlson said.

"We are very, very pleased," she said.

Despite flames and frustration, "Everything turned out fine," Pohle said.

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