Francesco O'Ryan, owner of the East African Bakery, launched his company in 2000 to satisfy a craving, shared by tens of thousands of other African immigrants in Minnesota, for the breads he grew up eating.
Ethnic markets soon snapped up East African Bakery's spongy injera bread -- a staple eaten with meat or vegetarian sauces at most meals by Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis -- and its sweet hambasha bread, often eaten as a snack or used for sandwiches, O'Ryan explained. The flatbreads also are served in some restaurants and are on the shelves at the Seward and Wedge co-ops in Minneapolis and the Holy Land deli.
Now O'Ryan's focus is to expand to mainstream grocery stores throughout the Twin Cities, a push that may begin in a month or two, and eventually to other cities and states. And he's getting some high-powered help from food company giants Cargill Inc. and General Mills.