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Four years ago, as he sought to escape the daily rigors of his work stress, Houstonian Tasos Katsaounis started baking bread between Zoom calls.
And while for many during the pandemic it has become a bit of a cliché to bake sourdough at home, Katsaounis was getting a head start on developing ingredients for Bread Man Baking Co. — a Houston-based artisan bread company that can now be enjoyed in restaurants across the city.
“You know, there’s just something about growing something out of nothing,” Katsaounis, the company’s CEO and founder, told InnovationMap. “I really feel like for the first time in 26 years of professional work, I’m doing what I’m supposed to do and I’m super passionate about what I do every day.”
In late 2021, the company expanded from its 5,000 square foot kitchen and moved its operations to a new 40,000 square foot facility on the northeast side of Houston near the Budweiser and Kroger distribution buildings. . At the time of the move, it had 17 employees and this year it has grown to 42.
In growth mode, Bread Man Baking Co. had to change their entire production process, investing in state-of-the-art industrial baking equipment to enable them to produce at scale. The company now also uses state-of-the-art bread-making machinery to mimic Yiaya recipes from Katsaounis from Greece to achieve the homemade “hand-shaping” effect in the dough.
They have also developed the ability to flash freeze their product to preserve the integrity of the product for distribution purposes without filling it with chemical based preservatives or conditioners traditionally used in the food industry.
“We’re all about innovation and evolution, but it’s bread and butter at the end of the day,” he says. “You have to see this in the perspective that there is no way for us to triple our production and maintain the quality and integrity of an artisanal bread product without innovating, without evolving, without adapting. We believe in the artisanal process.
Bread Man Baking Co. naturally ferments the majority of its products and bakes the bread in a stone platform, traditional hearth oven with steam to achieve the coveted crusty bread that customers crave.
The bread is sold at 65 restaurants around Houston, including the four Postino Wine Cafe locations, Georgia James and Tiny Boxwood concepts. The company now also distributes to Whole Foods and HEB retailers, pushing the bread to a total of five states.
“We’ve done all of this in the past six months since moving into our new facility,” he says. “It was fun to watch. Every month is a new month of high sales and we just say to ourselves, keep it up.