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.