Good dogs deserve good treats, and Lindy’s Bakery is cranking out thousands of pounds of doggy granola as part of a recent partnership with a pet product company.
Lindy’s Bakery, located at 701 S. Patterson Blvd. in Dayton, is Daybreak’s dog treat bakery and transitional job program for homeless youth.
The bakery, like most social enterprises, hasn’t been a money-maker.
But its new deal with a pet-treats company and a new agreement with the city of Dayton are helping Lindy’s expand, serve more at-risk young people and hopefully break even next year.
“It’s a great program,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “And we love to hear about it.”
Lindy’s Bakery started in 2012 in Ashley’s Pastry Shop in Oakwood, but outgrew the space and moved into its own bakery on Wayne Avenue.
Starting out, only about eight to 10 youth participated in workplace training at the Wayne Avenue facility. But the program kept growing and a waiting list developed of young people wanting to participate.
In the fall of 2016, Lindy’s moved into a larger space on South Patterson Boulevard where its capacity increased manyfold.
Lindy’s, which is part of Daybreak’s Opportunity Zone Employment and Education center, went from being able to produce 1,800 bags of treats every month to about 45,000 bags.
Lindy’s treats are sold locally and some other U.S. states, but sales were slow and “we were losing our shirts, like most social enterprises,” said Linda Kramer, Daybreak’s CEO.
Lindy’s operates with a “double bottom line” of mission and business, Kramer said, and the start-up was always first and foremost designed to help homeless teens succeed in a non-traditional workforce training environment.
But in March, Lindy’s went to a national trade show and made a business pitch for private-label baking, Kramer said. Lindy’s shared 16 different treats it could bake, including four granola flavors.
Lindy’s “got a huge hit” and became partners with Gott Pet Products, Kramer said.
The first order came in June for 100,000 pounds of doggy granola, Kramer said, and by September the bakery was shipping 6,000 pounds of doggy granola, which is being sold by the company Charlee Bear as “Bearnola Bites.”
Kramer said they are expecting a 300,000-pound order for 2020.
About half of the youths who participate in day training choose to pursue more steady employment either at Lindy’s or in the community, Kramer said.
Lindy’s also has hired six adult temporary workers and could make them full-time to keep up with demand.
The bakery had to source new bulk ingredients, ramp up production and purchased additional equipment and supplies, Kramer said.
The city of Dayton is also supporting Lindy’s to provide 75 homeless or disconnected youth living in Dayton employment and on-the-job training, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.
At its most recent meeting, the Dayton City Commission approved approved an agreement with Daybreak to administer the Lindy’s Bakery job-training and development program.
The city has agreed to provide $249,000 of federal Community Development Block Grant funds to Daybreak to support the bakery’s operations.
The funds primarily will pay for supplies and materials, but they also will help cover youth employee labor costs and stipends, city records show.
The block grant funds will be used to support the ramp-up and growth that Lindy’s requires to meet its customers’ needs, which should increase sales to the point to sustain the business next year, Kramer said.
The Lindy’s Bakery budget is about $1.3 million, and most funds come from private sources, city records show. The bakery also receives some federal, local and county dollars.
Daybreak is on track to serve about 700 to 800 homeless young people in the community this year who face challenges including mental illness, drug addiction and abuse.