They used to club, now they’ll KUB Winnipeg-born and bred Chip and Pepper buy bread bakery
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KUB bread’s newest ingredients are a dash of Chip and Pepper.
Chip and Pepper Foster, known for their 1990s NBC cartoon series and popular tie-dye clothing line from the same era, have decided to buy the Winnipeg bakery, which announced in November it would close after 99 years .
The duo, who was born and bred in Winnipeg, announced the deal in a splashy news conference Wednesday in the company’s old digs on Erin Street.
“We used to go clubbing. Now, we’re going Kubbing,” the brothers exclaimed.
They hope to ramp up production — the recipes unchanged — within the next 120 days.
News that KUB Bakery was closing travelled to Venice Beach, Calif., where a friend told Pepper about the closure.
“It actually broke my heart,” he told reporters.
He and Chip talked, and soon, Pepper contacted a chain of people to reach then-KUB Bakery production manager Ross Einfeld.
“It all started with an anonymous text,” Einfeld said.
He showed Pepper around the building late last year before cementing a deal. Neither disclosed how much money the Fosters paid for the brand.
“Full-fledged KUB bread is a few months away, but I have no doubt they’ll do it,” Einfeld said. “They’re not talkers, they’re doers.”
Pepper bought Winnipeg’s The Pennyloaf Bakery with his wife last June. He lives in Winnipeg, while his brother resides in Los Angeles.
“We love to take old brands, or brands that are kind of banged up, and polish them up and put them on display,” Chip told the Free Press Wednesday.
“Full-fledged KUB bread is a few months away, but I have no doubt they’ll do it… They’re not talkers, they’re doers.”–Ross Einfeld
KUB is a different operation than Pennyloaf, Pepper noted. Each loaf of sourdough at Pennyloaf is made by hand in a small Corydon Avenue shop. One loaf might cost $8.
Before it closed, KUB Bakery was producing 6,000 loaves daily, Einfeld said. The loaves could sell for $3 or $4, and they were made in bulk.
The Fosters intend to double or triple KUB’s production, Pepper said.
He wouldn’t say whether all of the bakery’s products will be continued, but he called the bread “the Nike of bread.”
The cinnamon loaves are sure to stay: “the best French toast in the world is made by KUB cinnamon bread,” Pepper said.
KUB’s prices are subject to change, due, in part, to the inflated cost of inputs, he said.
Currently, bakers in Elm Creek, Selkirk and Roblin produce a small number of loaves for the company.
“We’re looking at space right now,” Pepper said, adding the goal is to scale up in the next few months.
The Fosters have their eye on places near McGillivray Boulevard.
New owners took over the 850 Erin St. location last month. Einfeld said the space will be used to paint buses.
Six semi-load trailers have exported equipment from the site over the past two months. The building still contains two ovens.
“I think we have the Wonder Bread of Canada,” Pepper said, adding he wants to “widen the net” of KUB’s reach.
Costco, Safeway, Red River Co-op and the Original Pancake House used to sell KUB bread, which was a staple served at Manitoba socials.
The Fosters hope to grow the brand beyond Canada’s borders. They shipped a truckload of products to a test market in Minnesota Tuesday, they said.
KUB Bakery is approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.
Sending bread to Ukraine, which is more than 10 months into a war with Russia, is top of mind, the brothers noted.
“Probably the express and the transportation will be more than the bread is worth, but it’s, in the end, worth it,” Chip said.
The duo noted they must determine logistics before settling on any plans. KUB — short for Kucher’s Ukrainian Bakery — uses Ukrainian recipes.
Einfeld, 62, said he’ll give advice to the brothers, if asked, but otherwise, he’s retired.
“Whatever they want to do, it’s their baby now. I fully trust them,” he said.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Einfeld said.
He no longer has to drive to Erin Street if a slicer blade breaks at 2 a.m. or receive messages at midnight from staff who can’t make it to work.
“I’m just happy that someone was able to take over,” Einfeld said.
He cited a laundry list of reasons for shuttering. The pandemic contributed to declining sales and heightened input costs; the bakery’s retail store underwent significant losses last summer due to nearby roadwork.
The bakery’s boiler was on the fritz, costing $2,400 to fix, and weeks later, in November, the oven died.
Einfeld said in November he hadn’t paid himself since May. KUB Bakery was in discussions for four weeks with a prospective buyer, but the other party pulled out a week before KUB closed, he said.
Further, Prairie Flour Mills filed a lawsuit against KUB in November, seeking $34,129 in alleged unpaid invoices, plus interest.
It was a debt Einfeld said, in November, that KUB couldn’t pay back.
The bakery’s closure created media buzz and evoked feelings of nostalgia among Manitobans. Within a day of the announcement, Einfeld was bombarded with calls for the business and its equipment, he said.
“I didn’t want to shut,” he told the Free Press in November. “I wanted to continue producing bread until a prospective buyer was found, and there’d be no mention of us closing.”
Einfeld’s family bought the company in 1982. At one point, its annual revenue neared $4 million.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Joss Morrisseau of the bakery’s revival.
Morrisseau, who was at Wednesday’s news conference, has is a fan of the beloved rye bread. He’s ready for avocado on toasted KUB bread.
“I’m… excited to see what happens for the company.”
The Fosters’ grandfather started Elman’s Food Products, which produces pickles and sauerkraut, among other deli favourites, 80 years ago. Its head office is on Jarvis Avenue.
The identical twins have a global denim brand called Chip & Pepper California.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.
Updated on Wednesday, January 4, 2023 5:00 PM CST: Complete rewrite
Updated on Thursday, January 5, 2023 7:58 AM CST: Corrects spelling of Einfeld