Handmade, whole-grain breads, made-to-order sandwiches and sweet bites round out the menu at Gerber Village’s forthcoming bakery, Great Harvest Bread Co. Husband and wife Kirk and Meridee Mucciarone, along with their son, Steven, are launching the franchise with a grand opening scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22.
The franchisor, Meridee says, “really does give you a lot of freedom. The only thing they really want you to use is their wheat from Montana,” where Great Harvest is headquartered. That key ingredient is the cornerstone of the brand, which boasts more than 200 outlets nationwide. All of them stone-grind wheat berries into whole-wheat flour in-house, using the product within two days. Meridee says operating the mill is “very fun” when it’s behaving.
“We do serve sandwiches on the bread we make, and we have coffee, muffins, scones and things for breakfast. We want people to come in and enjoy themselves,” Meridee says, noting a seating area in the lobby plus barstools.
“When you come in, you can have a sample of whatever is on the bread board for the day, and there’s usually a choice,” Meridee says, adding that the free offering is a daily amenity at all Great Harvest locations. “There will also be butter, jams and honey there if you want to put something on it — or not.”
Aside from a core menu of permanent breads, the selection will vary. “I love the cheddar garlic [bread] myself,” Meridee says, “but it’s a matter of personal taste. … Most little kids love the cinnamon chip bread. It’s like a cinnamon roll without the icing. It’s very popular.”
Other goods include honey whole-wheat, a high fiber bread, savory biscuits and anadama, which is made with buttermilk-soaked cornmeal and molasses. Breads are made without preservatives, additives or dough conditioners. And these loaves lend themselves to lunch, with the artisan breads providing the canvas for sandwiches such as Baja Chipotle Turkey, Veggie Three-Seed Hummus, Roast Beef Chimichurri and Big Sky Chicken Salad.
On the sweeter side, Steven will bake a variety of muffins (banana, pumpkin chocolate chip), cookies (salted caramel, oatmeal raisin), nut bars, scones and granola. Plus, the store will carry several take-home mixes (corn bread, cinnamon raisin cereal) for home bakers.
While Kirk works on business management, Meridee and Steven plan to spend their time manning the front and back of house, respectively. Great Harvest was a favorite spot of the family’s when they lived in Northern Virginia, where Steven gained experience as a pastry chef after studying culinary arts.
Because far-flung owners of the so-called “freedom franchise” are encouraged to source some local ingredients, the Mucciarones will carry Western North Carolina-made honey, jams and candles in addition to locally roasted coffee. Similarly, Steven has free reign to inspire the menu with his own flair once the store is up and running.
Great Harvest is at 1838 Hendersonville Road, Suite 102, in the Gerber Village Shopping Center. Open hours are Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Visit greatharvestashevillenc.com for updates.