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Thursday, Sep 21, 2023


BAGEL/handout art tk/22inches/1stjc/mark2nd By RUSSELL JACKSON Contributing Reporter Booming Manhattan Bagel Co. Inc. has leased space for a new West Coast manufacturing facility in San Fernando and will move its western regional administrative offices to the same site. And in a carefully orchestrated collaboration between city officials and state employment agencies, the new plant will be staffed in part by residents thrown out of work by the impending closure of a nearby Price-Pfister factory. The new bagel facility, which will be located at 1145 Arroyo Ave. in an industrial neighborhood of San Fernando, will devote about 21,500 square feet to bagel dough and cheese spread manufacturing. The rest of the space will be used for administrative offices that will relocate from Canoga Park. The Eatontown, N.J.-based Manhattan Bagel plans to make about $4.5 million in capital improvements to the site. Construction of the production facilities will be two-tiered, according to company president and chief operating officer Jason Gennusa. Sometime this fall, the plant will be ready to start producing about 800 dozen bagels an hour, he said. Next spring, equipment will be instealled to bring the San Fernando site up to speed with the company’s “highly automated, state-of-the art” facility in Eatontown, he added. When that’s done, the plant will produce about 2,000 dozen bagels an hour. The San Fernando facility will service Manhattan Bagel outlets in California, Las Vegas, Arizona, West Texas and the rest of the Southwest. The company ships pre-formed, frozen dough to each store, which then boils, seasons and bakes it. The idea of locating the plant in San Fernando first came up when Manhattan Bagel informed California’s Trade and Commerce Agency that it intended to open a plant on the West Coast, said Mayor Raul Godinez. The agency contacted city officials, he said, to notify them that “someone is interested in leasing a large space” and to “ask if we wanted to make a pitch for it.” As it happened, the state’s Employee Training Panel had started working with Price-Pfister about placing its laid off employees. An ETP liaison secured a list of terminated employees, then contacted San Fernando and Manhattan Bagel officials about rehiring them at the new facility. The ETP liaison is now contacting those employees about opportunities at the bagel factory, said Saul Gomez, San Fernando’s assistant to the city administrator. The plant expects to employ 15 to 20 of those workers, Godinez said, at wages in the $25,000 to $30,000 a year range. In addition, about 45 employees will relocate from a much smaller production facility the company runs in North Hills, just six miles away, said Daniel Rush, general manager of Manhattan Bagel’s West Coast division. Manhattan Bagel inherited the plant when it acquired I & Joy, another bagel company, a couple years ago as a way to enter the West Coast market. The move should be complete by late summer, Rush said. Sealing the deal for the San Fernando site was an offer by Southern California Edison to provide the plant with lower “economic development” rates. And the ETP, Godinez said, “offered to help with the transition” for employees moving from the Price-Pfister plant to the Manhattan Bagel operation, including “providing training for the first six months.” San Fernando “pushed the community’s benefits, but didn’t make any concessions” to get the lease, Godinez said. Gomez isn’t surprised the site was pursued. “We’re a hub here,” Gomez explains, “We’re near Antelope Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and other population centers. So we have a lot of industries interested in locating here.” San Fernando has superb freeway access, Godinez noted, with the 210, 118, 405 and 5 freeways all nearby. Manhattan Bagel executives also liked the fact the San Fernando has its own police department, he said, and boasts a 911 response time of less than two minutes. “It’s a very secure city,” he said. In addition, San Fernando levies no utility tax on business. “You don’t have the same hurdles to starting an operation like that that you would in L.A.,” he said. Luck and timing played a part as well, according to Rush. Manhattan Bagel had been looking for a site for nine months, he said, but ruled out most prospects because they weren’t the right size or shape for its manufacturing needs. “At the last minute,” he said, the San Fernando facility offered those qualities just a short drive from the North Hills plant. Manhattan Bagel franchises, licenses or operates about 330 stores in 18 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada, including almost 40 in California, according to Gennusa. Another 100 or so outlets are under development. In addition to the main Eatontown facility, dough manufacturing plants are located in Greenville, S.C., and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The main cheese spread manufacturing operation is also based in Eatontown.

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