Long-time Chandler resident fulfills dream of owning a local business 5

Spotlight on Kneaders Bakery and Café

When he was 15, Kellen Sears began working in local restaurants.

Over the years, Sears realized that although he loves the restaurant industry, he has an entrepreneurial spirit that yearned to own his own business.

“As I grew older, I realized I wasn’t as happy working for others and I knew I fit in with restaurants,” he says.

After working as a manager for some local eateries, Sears says he found an ownership opportunity with Kneaders Bakery and Café. In September, 2015, Sears opened his Kneaders location at Queen Creek and Alma School Roads in Chandler.

“I absolutely loved the concept. It felt like I was at my grandma’s house when I went there, not to mention the food was way better than every other bakery I had been to,” he says.

Sears, who moved to Chandler when he was 9 and has been a proud resident for 22 years, says he has known for some time that he wanted to own a local business.

“I had a lot of other chances to open other locations, but I knew there was a Chandler store in the works and I wouldn’t do it anywhere else,” he says. “My dream has always been to operate a business in my hometown. Now I can finally give back to the city that gave so much to me.”

Homemade goodness

One of the things that helps to set Kneaders apart, Sears says, is that all of the bread is made completely from scratch in-house, every single day.

“Our French country sourdough has four ingredients: flour, salt, water, and levain, which is a natural living yeast, as opposed to a machine made yeast. It never comes frozen or baked in another location,” Sears says, adding that the rest of the breads have the same simple formulas, with the addition of maybe a couple more ingredients.

“You cannot find bread like this anywhere else, because it has a shelf life of only three to four days. I believe in having a healthier and more quality product to serve to people, especially in today’s age where everything is more about preservatives and junk than actual food.”

All of the sandwiches at Kneaders are made with the fresh bread, Sears says, and every salad or soup also comes with a slice.

Kneaders also has a retail boutique, which Sears says contributes to the feeling that customers have walked into their grandma’s house.

Although Kneaders offers extensive breakfast and lunch menus that feature favorites like omelettes, pancakes, 42 different made-from-scratch pastries, salads, sandwiches and soups, he said his two favorites are currently the turkey bacon avocado sandwich on focaccia, and the chunky cinnamon French toast.

“The French toast is to die for, and it is one of our most featured items, even though we only serve breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m.,” Sears says. “It is made from our homemade chunky cinnamon bread and is served with whipped topping, strawberries, and our homemade caramel syrup.”

Giving back

Sears says he is also committed to helping the Chandler community whenever possible.

“I love giving back to local schools, and especially the Chandler Police Department,” he says. “I have had a few opportunities to reach out to them and show them my gratitude for putting their lives at stake every day. When I get to serve those who tirelessly serve me and my family, it makes me feel great.”

Sears says getting to know his many regular customers is also a major highlight of his day and one of the best parts about owning his own business.

“I love seeing a lot of the same people day in and day out, learning about their lives and finding out how their weekends went,” he says, adding that he hopes that over time he will know the majority of his clientele by name.

“I love people, and I love having a quality product that I know is well above average.”