Featured Customer

We’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with some pretty great folks over the years, many of whom we’re still proud to call partners after 30 years.

this week we feature…

Our first entry into retail grocery was 28 years ago, when Bob Dierberg took a chance on an unknown local baker. It was the beginning of the Companion artisan bread program, with a few European artisan breads and our signature French Baguette. Fast forward to the present, and our relationship has only grown. Over the years products have come and gone, but one thing’s for certain – we’re still providing the same quality baguettes, artisan and sliced sandwich breads that Dierbergs customers have come to rely on. We’re humbled to be part of the Dierbergs team, and proud to say we consider ourselves more than a supplier – we’re “family” – and will continue to support the communities they serve.

In July 2018, we shipped our first order to Biaggi’s, an upscale casual Italian restaurant chain. Known for their extensive selection of house-made pastas, pizza, seafood, steak and desserts, they needed a bakery to help develop custom bread and other baked items that met the Biaggi’s high standards for ingredients and technique. After a year of R&D, here’s what Biaggi’s had to say…

“Our partnership with Companion is a perfect match. Their long ferment process develops the best flavor profile we can find. The Companion staff are well trained, organized and very knowledgeable. The ability to customize our products quickly and efficiently is a huge tool at our disposal. When our guests want the best in baked products, we have two options – make it ourselves or call on Companion.”

In 2018, Pickleman’s was in the market for a new bakery partner. They needed a supplier that could accomplish three goals: 1) Develop custom breads and buns based on their vision, specs and kitchen’s best practices, 2) Provide better overall consistency, and 3) Grow in scale with product offerings, number of locations and new markets. We were instrumental in achieving these goals and embracing the founder’s vision, and are proud to have been part of the Pickleman’s team since July 2018.

Famous for their desserts, Cyrano’s has been a go-to in St. Louis since the ’60s. Fast forward to 2003, the new owners were on a search for quality brioche bread to use in their homemade bread pudding. Companion was immediately selected and, 20 years later, we’re proud to say our signature loaf is still making customers “Mmmmm” for this signature dish.

A recent customer to the Companion roster, Hi-Pointe Drive-In was looking for a baker that could make a custom hamburger bun that met their premium specifications. After several months of R&D, Companion developed a brioche bun which is now being used in all locations. We’re happy to be part of the Hi-team! 

Since the beginning of Fresh Thyme, we’ve had the privilege of being one of the all natural, organic grocery chain’s primary bakers – providing fresh, wholesome artisan breads, buns, rolls and sandwich breads. We’ve played an integral role guiding the stores’ bakery teams and bringing sustainable products and programs to the communities they serve.

When looking for a local grocer that is unique in products, service, and quality, St. Louisans turn to Straub’s Markets. Straub’s is synonymous with specialty gourmet foods. As one of St. Louis’ oldest retailers, they’ve been sourcing local premium artisan products for over 120 years. Straub’s asked Companion to provide a full line of small batch breads for their customers and we’re proud to say that, after 10 years, we’re still delivering unique items like our signature Bread Pudding.

Did you know Steve’s Hot Dogs is the “Official Hot Dog of St. Louis?” Seriously – there’s an official proclamation from the Mayor to prove it! Owner, Steve Ewing, was looking for a local baker to help bring his vision to the basket. Together, we crafted a high-quality bun that would compliment his smoked all-beef dogs and could support the plethora of fresh, regionally sourced toppings piled on top.

July 19th is National Hot Dog Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to stop by and enjoy one of Steve’s legendary hot dogs!

Herbie’s, a longtime favorite dining destination in St. Louis, was looking for unique, high quality product for their sandwich and table bread programs. Our solutions – the whimsically shaped epi loaf, which has become a signature bread for Herbie’s baskets – and our brioche and infamous Badda Bing buns, which complete every sandwich on their menu.

Promotional poster showing a Companion pretzel being dipped in beer cheese dip next to a Schlafly beer bottle and glass

A longtime wholesale customer, Schlafly Beer was looking for a baker that could help them scale their operations and menu offerings. Over the years, Companion has provided artisan breads for sandwiches and the signature Bavarian Pretzel Stick which still remains a local favorite.

A Companion Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake is served with pieces of chocolate from Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate

In 2011, we approached Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate owner, Dan Abel, with a collaboration concept. The result was Breaded Bliss – a delightful bark using our crispy toasted brioche and their delicious small batch chocolates, with a hint of salt. Our joint efforts have continued over the years and, when Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate purchased Bissinger’s, expanded into our luscious Gooey Butter Cake, a Valentine’s Day favorite!

Stay tuned for more unique goodies from this mouthwatering mashup. And if you haven’t heard, Head Bread Guy, Josh Allen, has a podcast called Baked In. Listen to his discussion with Dan Abel here.

Companion salespeople, Tina Vass and Jonathan Potts, pose behind a table of Companion bread products at the UNFI food show
In 2012 we approached UNFI, a well-known distributer of natural and organic food products, with the intention of becoming a trusted supplier of artisan breads to their portfolio of retail customers throughout the Midwest. The next year we began shipments of a full line of hearth breads, rolls and buns. When UNFI purchased SuperValu in 2018, our breads gained greater reach through their expanded network of retailers, putting our product on tables of customers across the country.
Wally’s bbq sandwich on a Companion bun, served with chips and a fountain soda

Wally’s, a family-friendly travel center with two locations along historic Route 66 in Illinois and Missouri, was struggling with their bread service. Given their focus on providing elevated fresh food items, they needed a partner that could provide consistent quality and reliable delivery. Enter Companion. Our artisan rolls and buns are featured across Wally’s extensive menu, with more items being added soon. As their brand expands (10 more locations are in the works), we’re excited to grow with them.

A Peacemaker poorboy, served on Companion bun

When James Beard Award winning chef, Kevin Nashan, was planning his new restaurant concept, he approached good friend and Companion founder, Josh Allen, to help develop customized bread items for the menu. Peacemaker Lobster & Crab, which opened in 2014 to great acclaim, features our soft, hearty poorboy buns, and our buttery brioche for their rolls. The brand’s expansion into the Tulsa market in 2018 introduced our breads to the fine folks of Oklahoma.

To learn more about Chef Kevin Nashan, check out his feature episode on the Baked-In podcast, hosted by Josh Allen.

Local Harvest Grocery, which opened in June 2007, is a perfect partner for Companion. The organic, sustainable market, located in the Tower Grove South neighborhood of St. Louis, shares our philosophy of sourcing from local vendors as much as possible. In fact, over half of their products come from within 150 of the store. That’s why they trusted in us to provide a full line of hearths breads, delivered fresh daily. Since then, they’ve added our sandwich breads, pastries and cookies to their shelves. Pretty sweet!

A loaf of Companion Pumpkin Cranberry bread is sliced and laid out on a cutting board

For over 20 years, Companion has been one of the approved local vendors for Marriott Hotels. In St. Louis, that means providing bread for one of their top luxury brands – The Ritz-Carlton. During that time they have relied on us for consistent quality and service, something they know a few things about. Today, we deliver our olive batard and pumpkin cranberry loaves for the enjoyment of their discerning customers.

A cheeseburger is served on a Companion bun at BRGR restaurant

Known for their portfolio of eclectic, award winning brands, the W. VinZant group consistently delivers on their vision for quality-focused people, product, and elevated design. The Kansas CIty-based company was looking for a partner in Missouri to provide bread service that matches the level of excellence they’re known for. We’re proud to deliver our potato bun, rustic french loaf, and 7″ Italian sub bun for use in kitchens such as BRGR, Gram & Dun and Louie’s Wine Dive.

Companion Pretzel Sticks are served in a basket

Founded by beer veterans, Florian Kuplent and David Wolfe, Urban Chestnut pulled its first taps in January 2011. They knew they needed the perfect pretzel to accompany their high quality lagers and ales, and our classic Bavarian stick was up to the task. Today we continue to provide customers in their Grove and Washington Avenue locations with our famous pretzels & burger buns.

In 1998, as the owners of Kaldi’s Coffee were expanding both their presence in St. Louis and their menu offerings, they needed a partner to deliver high quality fresh bread and pastries daily to their café. Being on a similar growth trajectory, Companion was a natural fit. Since those early days our relationship has expanded as well. While we continue providing a number of proprietary items to their cafés, the Kaldi’s and Companion brands have become intrinsically linked in the community through a number of outreach efforts, including a Pedal The Cause cycling team that raises thousands each year for cancer research.

To learn more about the Kaldi’s family of brands, check out Josh Allen’s interview with co-owner, Tricia Zimmer Ferguson, on his Baked-In Podcast.

The original Companion bread rack stocked with product in the Schnucks bakery department, circa 1995

Schnucks was on a mission to fill their stores with as many local providers as possible. When it came to the bakery department, Companion was a clear choice to stock their shelves (and our racks) with fresh bread and other baked goods, as well as supplying product for their prepared foods. That was 28 years ago. We’re proud to still call them a valued partner, with our presence in the bakery department and in many grab and go items throughout their stores across the greater St. Louis area.

A sliced Companion ciabatta loaf is presented on a blue table cloth

This family owned staple in the Clayton restaurant scene has always put a priority on using the highest quality ingredients, with service to match. These are standards we live by as well, so the partnership was a natural fit. For over 15 years our breads, including our baguette and ciabatta loaves, have filled their kitchen and baskets. Here’s to another fifteen!

Acclaimed Columbus, Ohio-based restaurateur, entrepreneur and businessman, Cameron Mitchell, was looking for a partner to provide high quality bread for his new concept. Enter Companion. For six years our crusty ciabattini and other custom items have accompanied the award-winning Italian fare at Marcella’s. We’re proud to be part of this extraordinary family of culinary masterpieces.

A Chicken N Pickle sandwich is served on a Companion bun with tater tots and a pickle wedge

Earlier this year we were asked to pitch the bread program for Chicken N Pickle, a fast-growing national chain of restaurant and sports entertainment complexes. That meeting went well. Really well. You can now find our buns served up in all of their current and future locations, including in St. Charles opening later this year. So get your buns in there!

A sliced Snarf's sandwich is served on Companion bread

Three years ago Head Bread Guy, Josh Allen, received a call from his high school friend, Jimmy “Snarf” Seidel, of Snarf’s Sandwiches fame. Jimmy was looking for a high quality bread partner for his award-winning chain of made-to-order sandwiches. Since then we’ve supplied them with proprietary white and wheat breads, as well as our traditional bagels and scrumptious gooey butter bars.

An egg and ham sandwich is served on Companion bread at Bowood by Niche

In 2005, award winning chef and friend of the family, Gerard Craft, asked Companion to provide bread service for his new restaurant concept, Niche. Since then, Gerard’s portfolio of restaurants has expanded, the accolades have continued to pile up – including a coveted James Beard award for Best Chef – and Companion has been there every step of the way. Our breads can be found on the menus and tables across the Niche Food Group family of restaurants, including Brasserie, Pastaria and Bowood by Niche.

To learn more about Gerard Craft and what drives him, listen to his interview with Head Bread Guy, Josh Allen, on the Baked In podcast.

One of our longest relationships, Tony’s is the epitome of fine Italian dining. This award winning establishment in St. Louis prides itself on having the finest service and quality, and their bread program is no exception. Not long after we started pulling the first loaves out of our ovens, we began developing a number of custom items for then Executive Chef, Vince Bommarito, Jr., including our golden fennel roll. Thirty years on, our breads are still featured on Tony’s tables and across their menu. We’re thankful for the trust the Bommaritos placed in us as we established ourselves as a high quality artisan bread partner, and for the opportunity to share our product and passion with the fine customers of Tony’s year after year.

 

A BLT is served on a Companion bun at River City Casino in St. Louis, MO.

In 2010, River City Casino’s then-Executive Chef, Bill Gideon, approached us about developing a bun based on the famous breads at Portillo’s in Chicago. We worked together to develop a customized product that was heavily featured on his menu. Today, our famous pretzel sticks and ciabatta elevate the dishes at River City and Hollywood Casino – Penn Entertainment’s properties in the St. Louis area.

A sandwich is served on a Companion croissant at Sasha’s Wine Bar

Twenty years ago, Sasha’s owner, Alan Richman, approached us about providing bread service for his increasingly popular wine bar. He needed consistent quality and delivery for his eclectic menu, thus a partnership was born that continues and thrives to this day. Our baguettes and croissants are featured on items at both locations – in Demun and Sasha’s On Shaw.

BJC and Mercy Hospitals are two of the largest healthcare facilities in the St. Louis area. As such, they’re responsible for feeding thousands of patients, families and employees every single day. We’re proud to be an official supplier of artisan breads to these vast networks.

Portrait of chef Bill Cardwell

What can we say about Bill Cardwell? As we were pulling the first baguettes out of our stone hearth oven in 1993, the highly praised Owner and Executive Chef of his namesake restaurant in Clayton was first in line to sign up for daily delivery of our artisan breads. Over the years our businesses grew together, us expanding our client base across St. Louis and Bill expanding his dining concepts to a highly acclaimed Cardwell’s location at Frontenac Plaza and, later, BC’s Kitchen. We were there, working together, every step of the way.

When Bill announced his semi-retirement in 2018 we were first in line to congratulate him on an extraordinary career, and thank him for his trust, friendship and collaborative spirit. For that, we will be forever grateful.