M&L to Ben & Jerry's: Move over, pal


January 27, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Hoping to boost the display of its products -- and sales -- M&L Gourmet Ice Cream, the maker of Lee's Ice Cream, is introducing new flavors inspired by famous Maryland food companies and restaurants.

The Baltimore-based company hopes that the campaign will persuade major grocery store chains to push over Ben & Jerry's and Edy's in their freezer cases and make room for the hometown team.

"There is room for local players," said Scott Garfield, vice president of the family-owned business. "Give us a chance to play."

Some of the new flavors, which are due out in April, will include Goetze's Caramel Cream Ice Cream, Berger Cookie Ice Cream, Haussner's Black Forest Cake Ice Cream and McCormick's Sinful Cinnamon. In each case, the cookies, cakes or spices from those companies will be ground up and added to M&L Gourmet's ice cream.

So far, the company's ice cream is available in only 80 local retail outlets, including Mars Supermarkets Inc. and Royal Farms convenience stores. But Mr. Garfield hopes this will change with the new flavors.

"Everybody is very loyal to their particular city or state manufacturers," Mr. Garfield said.

The company was started in 1979 by Mr. Garfield's father and mother, Lee and Mary. Its main outlet has been through the three company-owned ice-cream stands and eight franchise operations in the Baltimore-Washington area and Charlotte, N.C.

But since July, the company's focus has been on expanding its prepacked pint business, which has included flavors like amaretto fudge swirl, double chocolate truffle, pralines and cream, strawberry cheesecake, white pistachio-pistachio and, the old standard, vanilla.

These new lines of business have helped push the company's annual sales from about $1 million to about $1.25 million last year, Mr. Garfield said.

Bagel chain has expansion in mind

The burgeoning business of baking bagels is booming. That's the message from Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, a McLean, Va.-based bagel chain that is expanding its presence in the Baltimore area with the opening of a store on March 1 at the Yorkridge Shopping Center in Timonium.

It will be the first of five to seven Chesapeake Bagel Bakery franchises that are expected to open in the area within three years, according to Dan A. Rowe, director of franchise development for the company.

"The bagel baking industry is really taking off," he said. The 29-store chain has commitments for 60 additional franchises in the next few years, from Jacksonville, Fla., to Minneapolis. "We'll probably have 100 up and running by the end of 1997," Mr. Rowe said.

The 13-year-old company, which has overall sales of more than $22 million, has been aggressively expanding its franchise operation in the past six months, Mr. Rowe said. He said the time was ripe for growth, as more consumers are convinced that the bagel is more healthful than the doughnut.

Mr. Rowe said Chesapeake Bagel has an edge over other bagel merchants because its products are made at each location from scratch. The shops also offer salads and sandwiches.

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