Great Harvest Bread Co. closes

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Days after shuttering the restaurant, the owner of the Great Harvest Bread Co. blamed the economy and Carmel Farmers Market head Ron Carter for its demise.

The restaurant’s owners, Jerry and Janet Lecy, closed the store Memorial Day weekend after a history of sluggish sales. The restaurant, which was located in the Providence Shoppes strip mall in the 12000 block of Old Meridian Street, was faced with stiff competition from other eateries within a short distance.

Local resident Debra Wagner said the store was always busy when she visited, typically in the mornings before work.

“I didn’t notice anything about them closing,” Wagner said. “I thought the location was good for them – it’s definitely busy with lots of foot and car traffic.”

Employees had no idea the store was closing, Jerry Lecy said, adding each “was taken care of.” He didn’t elaborate on their severance.

Jerry Lecy said he’d hoped to secure vendor space at the Carmel Farmers Market to further integrate the business into the community.

“It made a huge difference (in sales) with our Lafayette store,” he said. “Our products line up perfectly with the farmers market – wholesome ingredients, made from scratch each morning.”

For two years, Lecy said he tried to secure space at the Carmel Farmers Market, telling Carter in a series of e-mails that being in the market was “important for the future of his business.”

Carter, who also serves on Carmel’s City Council, expressed sorrow for the restaurant’s closing, but stood by his decision.

“We turned down 37 vendors for the farmers market this year,” Carter said. “We’re looking for vendors who are just starting out, and, as a rule, we don’t allow franchises, particularly ones that offer their products at (a nearby supermarket). People can pick up their bread at Meijer any day of the week.

“I’m sorry for him, but I don’t agree we caused him to go out of business. If the future of his business hinges on being at the farmers market, there are obviously other problems there.”

Carter said Lecy wasn’t the first Great Harvest Bread Co. franchise that tried to secure space at the market. Another franchise owner considering a move to Carmel attempted to gain vendor space more than two years ago; like Lecy, he was also turned down.

With the Carmel location closed, the Lecys plan to focus solely on their Lafayette location.

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4 Comments

  1. Mr. Carter is incorrect when he states that “people can buy their bread at Meijer any day of the week.” The Meijer bread is produced at a different facility and includes preservatives not found in the Lecy’s bread, so we went to their store instead of Meijer.

    Respect lost for Carmel Farmer’s Market – why do they have booth space for real estate / condo sales, which is not what we typically think about associating with farmers markets, and not for wholesome bread?

  2. Absolutely incredible. Mr. Carter, you should be doing everything you can to help promote a local small business, that has invested a not inconsiderable sum of money to run a small business in Carmel. How many other bakers with their goods, are at the farmer’s market? With the selection that they have? I haven’t seen Carmel being very shy about allowing franchises on every corner of our town. Every sale, and promotion counts. That fine line between losing money, and profit can be affected by any number of things, and it looks like Mr. Carter’s actions were one of those things.

  3. D Thomas Carmel on

    There is a difference between a corporate owned franchise and one owned by individuals. Mr. Carter allows a bakery from 50 miles away which has no connect to Carmel but prohibits a bakery that contributes employment, rents space and pays taxes to our community.

    Reserve some spaces for those connected to the community. As for the “just starting out” comment, this isn’t a business incubator.

    Sounds as though in his next run for Council his opponent should point out his failed logic.

  4. jabberwocky on

    Why is Mr. Carter both on the City Council and head of the Farmers Market? It sounds like he has too much power. Power corrupts…..every time.

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