Local Spotlight: Sami’s Bakery
By Gretchen Hein
I first became aware of Sami’s Bakery when my husband decided to give up wheat. New Leaf Market had just begun to carry a few of their products, the millet and flax bread, and spinach lavash quickly became regulars in our home. Over the years the selection of Sami’s products expanded and it wasn’t long before the millet and flax chips became a snacking staple.
Sami’s Bakery, owned by Sami Chehab, is located in Tampa, Florida. They specialize in wheat-free, gluten-free and low-carb baked goods. Their mission is to provide customers with the highest quality, flavorful baked goods and food at the right price.
For many years, Sami’s was much like any other bakery. Then about seven years ago a decision was made to change their product line. An impetus to eat healthier pushed Sami to experiment. As they moved away from traditional baked goods, they prayed there would be a market for their new creations. At first they were mostly looking for breads and desserts that were lower in carbohydrates. Low carb was the current rage in the food industry. As these products caught the attention of their customers, they were pulled into exploring other dietary issues and the gluten-free line of products was born.
Sami’s web-site, www.samisbakery.com, is full of information. Pictures and detailed nutritional content are available for everything they sell. They want consumers to know what they’re getting, there’s nothing to hide. The choices are many—tasty, wholesome baked goods and a few other snacks like hummus, falafel and stuffed grape leaves.
Approximately 40 employees make up the Sami’s team. A small storefront serves the local community, but most of Sami’s business comes from retailers such as New Leaf Market. They also fill special orders either by phone or through the Internet. Business has been good enough that they’re undergoing an expansion and moving the offices and bakery to a larger site. Plans are to keep the storefront operation going in its present location. Business was a little more hectic than usual due to the upcoming move when we talked, but not so hectic that Manager Shanus Sihaner couldn’t encourage me to try their vegan chocolate chip cookie. He was pretty convincing and next time I’m shopping at the Co-op I’ll be sure to give it a try. He claims it’s one of the best cookies around!
In a time when technology has spread into almost every facet of our lives, the folks at Sami’s Bakery have found a way to hold onto tradition, hand making each item they sell and still using brick ovens. By utilizing Internet technology to market and sell what they’ve made, they’ve wisely balanced the best of both worlds. Sami’s products are located in several places throughout the store. Even if your diet isn’t restricted from wheat or gluten, you’ll want to try a taste.
- Aisle 4 (chips): Millet & Flax Chips
- Grab ’n Go Cooler (deli): Spinach Pies
- Bread: Millet & Flax Sandwich and Breakfast Breads, Buns
- Refrigerated: Pita Bread, Lavash, Pizza Crust