Baking & Snack - December 2020 - 23

fore purchasing Aladdin Bakers, started mentoring her about the
baking industry.
" Joe built the company from the ground up, " Ms. Watkinson
said. " He treats everyone with respect. He works the floor like I
do, often side-by-side with others. In hard times, he's here. During
celebrations, he's here. He has taken the time to teach the lessons
of baking, business and life.
" He's really a visionary, " she continued. " He's teaching me about
everything outside of the box when it comes to baking and business as well. Ultimately, I decided to come on board because of
his passion and because I really wanted to make a difference. I
know that sounds cliché, but there's something to be said for feeding people. I felt a sense of accomplishment that I didn't feel as
an attorney. "
At Aladdin Bakers, Ms. Watkinson formalized the human relations department, instituted formal training programs, created
a support network with an outlet for employees to voice grievances and developed a payroll system that eventually allowed
the bakery to respond to workforce fluctuations more quickly
when COVID-19 hit. She guided the bakery through SQF certification for HACCP and streamlined production schedules to
garner efficiencies in the more than 100,000-square-foot bakery
that includes at least a dozen production lines in 17 buildings on
three city blocks.

Learning the ropes
Since joining Aladdin Bakers, Ms. Watkinson also has worked in
every position on the production floor to understand what the
processes are, experience what it takes to create the finished products and comprehend how the operation comes together.
" That allows me to identify areas where improvements can be
made to formulate plans to attain positive change and how to execute it, " she said. " You might look at a job and think it's easy, but
every job here is difficult. Over time, people become experts at it. "
Ms. Watkinson enjoys stepping into those roles, such as handstretching Aladdin Bakers' signature panini bread, where she's
connected to the product. She's also worked in sanitation, maintenance and engineering.
" It opened my eyes to seeing employees are not just coming to
work and punching the clock and pressing a button all day, " she
noted. " Everybody is skilled in some fashion. "
As an attorney, she's seen how businesses operate and why
some companies succeed, while others make wrong decisions.
That's an advantage as COO. At the same time, she understands
that it takes time to learn and be accepted in the industry.
" One disadvantage of coming in and not growing up in the
bakery is that there is definitely a club, " Ms. Watkinson said. " I
haven't really broken into that club yet, but I plan to. It's not that
it's a closed-door club, because this is the most inviting industry
that I've seen. I just haven't had the time to develop many relationships over the last few years, but I'm working on it. "
She said that her expanding coterie now includes local bakers,
even competitors, who Mr. Ayoub grew up with in the area, and

BAKED IN
BROOKLYN, THE
NEW YORK WAY
Aladdin Bakers is a New York bakery, through
and through. Located in 17 buildings on
three blocks, it's shoehorned into a Brooklyn
neighborhood.
" When you walk out our doors, you don't
walk into a parking lot; you walk into the
city, " said Theresa Watkinson, chief operating
officer. " We operate in a mixed-use zoning
area. We have building, building and a house
nestled between them, and then more of our
buildings - all of them are interconnected,
at least, on each one of our blocks. We have
to be mindful of our neighbors and make
sure that we're part of the community. "
If Ms. Watkinson could wish for just one
thing, it would be more room to produce
baked goods and snacks on its array of automated and semi-automated production lines.
" One of the most New York things about
my job is we have perhaps less space than
anywhere, " she said. " We are forced to be
so creative when it comes to placement of
equipment, production flow, storage, shipping or receiving. We have made more than
efficient use of every inch of our facility.
There are twists and turns and mezzanines
and you name it. We really adapt to what we
need to produce. "
The bakery is owned by Joseph Ayoub,
who Ms. Watkinson describes as a " visionary " in more than one way.
" Joe is the kind of guy who will look at a
product and say, 'Why don't we make this for
a certain market and change it in a way that
others wouldn't have ever thought about, "
she said. " And it's a really niche market that
exists all across America, so there's volume. "
Ms. Watkinson recalled how Mr. Ayoub
opened Baked in Brooklyn, its retail shop on
5th Avenue.
" It's across the street from a cemetery, "
she noted. " This area was completely uninhabited by many people above ground. He
said, 'I'm going to open a store here,' and
people said he was crazy. "
Now, Baked in Brooklyn, the retail shop,
is alive and well in the neighborhood. For
more information about Aladdin Bakers,
check out Baking & Snack's cover story in its
July 2020 issue.

www.bakingbusiness.com / December 2020 Baking & Snack 23


http://www.bakingbusiness.com

Baking & Snack - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Baking & Snack - December 2020

Baking & Snack - December 2020 - 1
Baking & Snack - December 2020 - 1
Baking & Snack - December 2020 - 2
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