Great Harvest Bread Co.

By Shawn Arrajj



People often overlook the use of bread when it comes to preparing a sandwich, preferring to focus instead on meats, cheeses and veggies. Heidi Roark, owner of Great Harvest Bread Co. in Katy, said using the right bread is the most important part.



Great Harvest specializes in freshly made bread of all types, ranging from classic honey wheat to the more adventurous cranberry orange or pizza swirl. The Katy franchise was started in 2012 by the Roark family—husband and wife Dana and Diane—along with daughter Heidi, who dreamed of owning a bakery as a child.



"I spent a lot of time baking with my mother at a young age," Heidi said. "I would say that is where the passion comes from. It's always just been something that I loved doing."



Great Harvest has more than 200 locations around the country, but less than 10 exist in Texas with only three



in the Greater Houston area. It can be easy to mistake the family-run Katy location for a mom and pop bakery. In addition to running the South Fry Road storefront, the family attends six farmers markets each month, including markets as near as Tomball and as far as College Station.



The family bakes fresh bread every day from scratch and mills its own wheat on-site. Heidi begins each day around 4:30 a.m. to ensure fresh bread is ready by 9:30 a.m., she said. Her management has lead to steady growth during the past two years with total staff doubling from six to 12.



"The number of kneaders we bring in every morning has doubled from two to four because the amount of bread we need each day has pretty much doubled," Heidi said. "We get about 20–30 new people walking in our door every day."



Great Harvest gives franchise owners decision-making power when it comes to the menu. Roark said she appreciates the opportunity to be more creative in her baking. Some of the more experimental recipes that have proved popular with customers include beer-bread pretzels, bacon and chocolate chip cookies and Almond Joy bread.



Great Harvest is best known for its specialty breads, but desserts and pastries are a big part of the menu as well. Moving forward, Heidi said she plans to further develop the eatery's sandwich offerings and catering services.



"A lot of people are still surprised when they find out we offer things like coffee and sandwiches," she said. "We want to get more people to realize we aren't just a bread place. There is a whole cafe side to what we offer as well."



Immediate plans for the future involve continuing to grow the business' presence in the Katy community.



"It feels good to make and sell something that you know is a quality product, something that you would want to be eating," Heidi said. "We're just going to keep spreading the word about what we're doing here."



Owner recommendations



Honey whole wheat bread—Made with milled wheat, water, yeast, honey and salt, this bread is most popular. ($5.75)



Pumpkin chocolate chip—Available as muffin ($2.95) or batter bread ($8.25), both are available year-round.



Texan club—Great Harvest's sandwich comes with turkey, bacon, avocado, blue cheese spread, lettuce and onion. ($8.50)



Dakota bread—This bread is made with pumpkin, sunflower, millet and sesame seeds. ($6.95)



Savannah bar—The treat features oatmeal cookie crust topped with blackberries, raspberries and peaches. ($2.25)



Holiday specials



With Thanksgiving approaching, the staff at Great Harvest Bread Co. in Katy are preparing for the holiday season with pies, stuffing bread and other specialty menu items. Dinner rolls are always high in demand around this time of year, owner Heidi Roark said.



"Last year, we probably sold around 2,000," she said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we made up to 3,000 this year. Our employees will bring in family members just to help knead the bread."



Customizable gift baskets also come into sharp demand around the holiday season, Roark said. Pumpkin OHs are another holiday item made with thin pumpkin cake filled with a cream cheese swirl.



Great Harvest Bread Co., 1623 S. Fry Road, Katy, 281-578-3097, www.greatharvestkatytx.com, Hours: Mon.–Fri. 6:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed Sundays

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.