Mama Bev’s Bakery moving, fundraising for expanded grocery distribution

A Milwaukee-area bakery that sells St. Louis butter cakes has started another fundraiser and made other moves to support continued growth in its retail distribution.

The Mama Bev’s Bakery brand started off as a dessert option at owner Gary Plassmeyer’s Hales Corners restaurant, 9th Slice Pizza Co. After closing the restaurant, Plassmeyer repurposed the space for production of the butter cakes, which he has sold directly to customers out of the bakery, via e-commerce and through grocery stores.

Locally, grocery partners include Sendik’s Food Market and Woodman’s Market.

Plassmeyer announced this month that the storefront on South 108th Street is now closed. With his lease ending, he decided to restructure how the business operates. Mama Bev’s is moving to an office in Franklin, and he is working with co-manufacturers to support his production.

That, Plassmeyer said, will allow him to streamline operations and focus on the marketing and sales component of the business.

“The environment in general out there right now is a little daunting,” Plassmeyer said. “We figured partnering with somebody will give us a better chance of success.”

He said Mama Bev’s has a “very robust pipeline” for the upcoming quarters, in which its products could enter thousands of grocery stores. Moving production to a co-manufacturer will allow him to instead spend his time as a touchpoint with shoppers.

Plassmeyer previously began a formal $1.2 million fundraiser to support the growth. He has also opened a crowdsourced fundraiser, through which he aims to generate $123,000 by early April. The latter, Plassmeyer said, is akin to a friends and family round, while the round with structured term sheets is targeted toward high-net-worth individuals, angel investors and other potential contributors.

He said the funds would support the entry of Mama Bev’s into new grocers. Expanding retail distribution is a capital-intensive process that requires significant marketing, slotting fees and the offering of free product.

“It gets very expensive very, very quickly,” Plassmeyer said. “We want to make sure that we have enough money to position not only the brand, but the product, as well.”

Sari Lesk, Milwaukee Business Journal

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