Yianny and George Caparos began their baking careers more than 30 years ago, working for their father’s bakery in Chicago. It was this lifelong commitment to baking that helped the brothers go on to reinvent the breakfast category and become the gold standard for croissants.

After the family bakery was sold in 1994, Yianny Caparos made his own way in the business, becoming vice president of sales for the East Balt Commissary, a South Side Chicago bakery and a McDonald’s bun supplier. In 2002, he got a bakery of his own, purchasing the laminated dough division of the commissary and rebranding it as Gold Standard Baking. He brought in his father as general manager and his brother as director of sales, and the family bakery turned its focus to the high-quality frozen croissants they’re known for today. 

The Caparos’ bakery saw immediate success, and within 18 months, Gold Standard was producing more than 1 million croissants per week. While the croissants were high quality, the brothers credited much of the bakery’s accomplishments to its customer service, which they said was the beginning, middle and end of Gold Standard’s mission.

“Our customers are our friends,” George Caparos said. “They know us as the specialty croissant guys, and that’s all we want to be.”

Recognizing croissants as an emerging category, the brothers in 2008 brought in Arbor Investments, an equity firm specializing in the food industry. Gold Standard’s business skyrocketed soon after. With Arbor’s support, including a $40 million investment into equipment and facilities to increase capacity fivefold, the bakery quadrupled its sales and quickly became the nation’s largest manufacturer of specialty croissants. The brothers sold Gold Standard in 2015, and the transformation and successful sale of the bakery earned Arbor and them the “Deal of the Year Award” from Buyout Magazine.

But the Caparos were far from done with baking. Arbor continued its relationship with the brothers, placing them as directors on the board of Rise Baking. The bakery saw exceptional growth under the Caparos, becoming a leading North American bakery serving both in-store retailers and foodservice operators.

Most recently, the Caparos brothers partnered with Arbor in 2019 to form Crown Bakeries, with Yianny serving as president and George serving as chief development officer. Based in Nashville, Tenn., Crown Bakeries has positioned itself as a leader in the breakfast baked goods category, investing more than $30 million in single-serve items and sandwich carriers like buns and English muffins. Of course, a Caparos bakery wouldn’t be complete without croissants, and Crown Bakeries opened a Nashville bakery in 2021 dedicated entirely to the category. The bakery features a high-speed production line and is fully automated.

While Crown Bakeries currently serves the southeast United States, Yianny Caparos hopes it will soon reach customers across North America. It’s already well on its way: Crown Bakeries had three manufacturing plants in 2019, and has since grown to eight facilities.

The Caparos brothers are respected within the baking industry and known by many as simply “the croissant guys.”

“They are true innovators in the frozen bakery products market,” said Robb MacKie, American Bakers Association president and CEO. “Croissants are an extremely tricky bakery product to produce, and the Caparos modernized and perfected the operation. They are the classic case of ‘Once a baker, always a baker.’ “

This article is an excerpt from the February 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Baking Hall of Fame, click here.