Bakery behind Hawaii McDonald’s, Burger King buns, sandwich breads to close

A bakery that provides bread to fast food restaurants in Hawaii is shutting down.

You might not have heard of Fresh Start Bakeries, but they make hamburger buns and other sandwich breads for McDonald’s and Burger King.

The company says it is closing its bakery in Waipahu next month. The company also owns bakeries on the West Coast.

So what does that mean for some of your favorite fast food items?

Those goods will have to be shipped here regularly, and we have yet to see if there will be any difference in the taste.

Fresh Start Bakeries is in a massive warehouse in Waipahu with a secured gate. We were hoping to go inside to get a look at the operations, and at least get answers on why it’s closing.

The manager referred us to a spokeswoman on the mainland for ARYZTA, the company that owns the bakery. She says the closing is a result of a business decision, and she would not elaborate.

As far as how many workers, she said it’s company policy not to discuss it in detail. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations says it was notified, and the bakery has fewer than 50 workers.

As for McDonald’s, it doesn’t anticipate any changes.

“So as far as McDonald’s is concerned, they promised us that we won’t miss a beat,” said franchise owner Victor Lim, who owns six McDonald’s restaurants on Oahu.

He says the buns will be shipped here from a California bakery, frozen to preserve the shelf life. So yes, the buns on your quarter-pounder with cheese will be shipped here frozen from the mainland.

But McDonald’s says that doesn’t really change anything, because they’re frozen anyway, even when they’re made here before they’re sent to the stores.

Lim says McDonald’s started phasing out preservatives and artificial ingredients last year, and because of that, buns had to be frozen even when they were baked locally.

“They freeze it and then they send it to our restaurants, so really if you think about the operations for us, there is no difference for the restaurant level,” Lim said.

Customers we spoke with don’t seem alarmed about it.

“I don’t think it will make a difference. I think it’ll be the same,” said Linda Wong. “I’m not worried.”

But will it cost more now that the buns are shipped here? Lim says he doesn’t see that happening, so customers don’t have to worry about prices going up.

“We have people in the system that work very closely with all of our suppliers to make sure that we have the best quality and the best cost coming in our back door,” Lim said.

KHON2 also reached out to Burger King. A spokeswoman says the company prefers not to comment.

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