Retail

John Dough switches gears, will expand its bakery and commissary in Lakewood Ranch

When John Dough Bakery & Cafe in University Parkway closed last month, it wasn't because business was bad. In fact, the storefront location was doing extremely well, owner Dennis Holly said.

Bakery owners decided to focus the business' energy on expanding the bakery and commissary in Lakewood Ranch with the possible addition of a retail store and a wholesale delivery option to area businesses, Holly said. In 2010, the Lakewood Ranch bakery had a retail component.

"I think we are going to have more presence with this than we even did (with the cafe)," Holly said. "This is a good business move for us. We will divert our energies toward that part because we can see the potential with that."

The Shoppes at University Town Center location, 8527 Cooper Creek Blvd., closed last month, Holly said. The bakery was in the storefront location since 2010.

"John Dough Bakery at that location was a great cafe and was busy during the day a lot of the time and it was well liked and we had great customers there," Holly said. "I know a lot of people were surprised and sad. We feel for those people. We really do ... It was really one of those things that you had to think over. When it all shakes out and gets done, it will make sense."

Despite the University Parkway store closure, the bakery didn't lay off any employees and it plans to add more bakers, Holly said.

"It's really a positive thing from a business standpoint," Holly said.

The bakery's lease in the Shoppes at University Town Center is not up and Holly said he has been developing a plan for what to do with the space.

"We are reviewing and analyzing and doing some light remodeling and opening it in some fashion," Holly said. "We are working through some options."

The Mall at University Town Center, which is set to open Thursday, is located directly across University Parkway in Sarasota County. But even with the large crowds expected in the region after the opening, Holly said they didn't really consider the mall's opening when they decided to close.

"It could have been a negative or a positive," Holly said of the additional retail opening in the area. "Everyone over there doesn't know which it will be. It will be crazy for the first six months."

John Dough Bakery fans will still be able to get their hands on the bread at the Lakewood Ranch location in the future, Holly said. As part of the bakery's expansion, they will begin to bake gluten-free and organic options, he added.

"That's what the plan is," he said, adding that they are planning to open the expanded bakery around Nov. 15. "A lot of people wanted to continue buying the bread and other things we had so we are working toward making that available.

"I look forward to providing great bread and products to them in the future."

Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.

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