J.P. and Michelle MacFadyen aren't your typical entrepreneurial team. Both 39 years old, he's a Pittsburgh native and mechanical engineer with an MBA, and she's an electrical engineer who graduated from UL Lafayette. The couple met in the early '90s while working at NASA in Houston and moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1999.

Now the parents of four young kids, they've just relocated to Lafayette (she's an Acadiana native), and come early October, the MacFadyens will have a new title: fermentation engineers. They're bringing a Montana-based franchise, Great Harvest, to a new phase of Lafayette's Gates of Orleans commercial center on Kaliste Saloom Road, across from Fresh Pickins.

Bread lovers ' and health-conscious eaters who follow the U.S. government's guidelines calling for three daily servings of whole grains ' are in for a treat. For 29 years Great Harvest Bread Co. has specialized in baking whole grain breads, cookies, muffins and fruit bars, all with stone ground wheat flour milled on site. "We will have a mill inside the bakery," says Michelle. "We will grind the wheat berries fresh everyday. Nobody in Lafayette has that." The wheat is shipped in from Montana, she says, and the stones can be manipulated for fine grinds or grainier textures used in a variety of breads.

Once the wheat is ground, the flour cools for a day and is immediately used to retain optimum levels of nutrients. Made with all-natural ingredients, the breads will bake in a giant oven that is 9 feet tall by 14 feet wide and 9 feet deep.

Michelle explains that whole-wheat flour used in the mass production of breads on grocery store shelves is usually several weeks old and has lost much of its nutritional value. Great Harvest also notes that commercial milling of wheat kernels into white flour removes the bran and the germ; even whole-wheat flour in breads found on supermarket shelves usually has had its germ extracted to increase shelf life. The germ, however, has important vitamins and enzymes. The company insists that only bread containing all the components of grain ' the bran (the fiber-rich outer layer), endosperm (middle layer), and the germ (inner layer) ' provides the full nutritional benefits of whole grains.

There are other health reasons the MacFadyens turned to Great Harvest. Their children are allergic to dairy products and eggs, which are contained in most breads. "I walked into the store and was surprised to see so many breads we could eat because they're made from scratch," she says. "They're yeast breads." The menu will rotate breads each day, featuring six to seven selections, mostly multi-grain, high-fiber. The company's No. 1 seller is Honey Whole Wheat.

Great Harvest has 190 stores in 40 states, with another 20 opening in the next year. The couple was also attracted to the laid-back atmosphere of the company, which offers a great deal of latitude to its franchisees. "They call themselves 'the freedom franchise,'" Michelle says, noting that the company also encourages a strong network of information sharing among its stores. "I was really blown away by how willing [everyone was] to share their sales figures and their problems."

Rx for small business

Debbey Ryan has left her three-year gig as the advertising and marketing director for Abdalla's clothing store in the Oil Center to become a full-time independent marketing consultant.

Ryan, who has more than two decades of experience in the industry and is active in the Lafayette community, launched Prescriptive Marketing part-time 18 months ago. The business has steadily grown as an affordable alternative to traditional ad agencies. "Prescriptive Marketing concentrates on providing focus, direction and guidance for the much-overlooked small and micro-business market," says Ryan. "So many small businesses forget the importance of budgeting for marketing and advertising and have little or no budget to work with," she adds. "I help and teach them how to get successful results for their business at a price that fits their budget."

Bath Junkie opens near Target

A Fayetteville, Ark.-based upscale bath franchise, Bath Junkie, moved into the Target center on Ambassador Caffery Parkway last week. Franchisee Jill Norman Leblanc says the shop offers customers the option of custom-blended bath and body products from 200 fragrances that can be combined into a multitude of colors. Products include phosphate-free bubble bath, mineral-oil free lotions, exfoliating salt scrubs, shower gels and body washes, and hair conditioners.

Norman says for those women looking for a unique place to have a ladies' night out, Bath Junkie will also host a variety of parties.

Founded in 1996, the company now has 46 locations across the United States and will open 18 more before the end of the year. Other Louisiana stores are in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport and West Monroe, with a location opening soon in Covington.

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