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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grateful Grahams finds an affordable Kentucky home for its homemade goodies

Grateful Grahams' homemade graham crackers are available online and at various retail outlets, including Whole Foods. (Photo by Michael Monks)


By Michael Monks
Special to KyForward

Rachel DesRochers was laid off from her job a few years ago and took the opportunity to spend more time with her three children, a time that included activities such as baking together.

One baked snack triggered a light bulb.

Homemade graham crackers.

“I had never had a homemade graham cracker before,” DesRochers said. “I looked at my husband and said, I’m just going to try this.”

DesRochers launched Grateful Grahams in Cincinnati three years ago and debuted her new creation on Earth Day at an event at the city’s Sawyer Point. She sold out. Then Park + Vine, a specialty grocery/general store in Cincinnati ordered some grahams for its shelves. Then called for a second order.

Two part-time employees work with owner Rachel DesRochers at Grateful Grahams. (Photo by Michael Monks)

“I though, wait a second, this might work,” she said.

So far, so good. Shoppers can now find Grateful Grahams on the shelves of at a variety of locations, including Whole Foods. And folks in Covington will now see Grateful Grahams work space on Pike Street where DesRochers recently moved her business.

For the first three years of its existence, Grateful Grahams rented space from other bakeries, including Sweet William’s in Cincinnati. After outgrowing that space, DesRochers went looking for a permanent, full-time home. A local food blog called Wine Me, Dine Me highlighted the listing on Pike Street.

“Kentucky was affordable,” DesRochers said. “In Cincinnati there wasn’t much I could find that was affordable, that would be our own space, and that was ready to go.”

Grateful Grahams’ new home previously hosted the gluten-free bakery called AJ Creations and most recently a short-lived second attempt at a bakery called Bread & Spice. While the two previous tenants struggled to find a steady customer base on a street that lacks heavy foot traffic and easy parking, Grateful Grahams won’t have the same needs.

Grateful Grahams are available in a variety of flavors. (Photo by Michael Monks)

DesRochers’ business distributes her products strictly through wholesale or online sales.

And that product list is growing, with each item abiding to a vegan menu. What started as simple graham crackers in different flavors has matured to include “bites” with bold seasonal flavors. (The current offering is chocolate chili pepper.)

Sometimes a customer creates a product for DesRochers who said that a small grocer in Cleveland contacted her about buying her crumbs. Now Grateful Grahams sells packs of crumbs with enough inside to bake two crusts. The package comes with a recipe.

In addition to DesRochers, two part-time employees help out at Grateful Grahams where the production schedule is tight thanks to its previous existence as part-time tenant in other bakeries.

Each item is baked on site, then packaged individually by hand.

DesRochers is committed to growing the company and spreading the message of gratitude that inspires her business.

“I want to keep going,” she said. “We’re in five farmers markets a week now and that’s added a whole new realm for our business.”

“We’re really grateful. We’re really humble for what we have and we love what we do. So, to be able to spread that message through a cookie is a really nice thing to have.”

Michael Monks is editor and publisher of The River City News, where this story first appeared. It is reprinted with permission.



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