Cinnabon Inc. is poised to test a new concept in Houston called Bon Bake Shop that will feature a wider variety of smaller items than a typical location.

The first Bon Bake Shop will open in mid-September in the Willowbrook Mall in northwest Houston, with other locations in the works.

“We are opening one location to start with,” said Kristen Hartman, Cinnabon’s vice president of marketing, in an interview Thursday. “We know that consumers will always treat themselves. … We think these bite-sized cinnamon rolls will give them permission to do that.”

The company plans to open several more Bon Bake Shops after the initial Houston test, Hartman said, though no timetable has been set.

“We want to test it with a few locations, and we are in the process now of identifying where those locations will be,” she said.

The products Bon Bake Shop carries will differ from those found in a regular Cinnabon location, she said. The concept will offer smaller, bite-sized items with a variety of toppings.

“There will be other things on the menu as well,” Franco said, “but you will not find the classic roll in the Bon Bake Shop as you would in a traditional Cinnabon bakery.”

Pricing is “not yet set in stone,” Franco said. Earlier reports suggested the prices would be a four-pack “flight of bites” for $3.69 and a box of 16 for $13.99.

“That’s what we are anticipating, but I can’t say for sure until we’ve opened,” Franco said.

Hartman added that the item size and pricing are designed to make it easier for consumers to share tastes of the product.

“We’ll open with nine different flavors so they can mix and match,” Hartman said.

It will also feature a wider variety of icing flavors, such as Oreo, wild berries and cream, s’mores and maple bacon. Other possible flavors will include Bavarian cream pie, brownie batter, Butterfinger, pumpkin caramel, red velvet and toasted coconut, the company said.

Millennials are one target of Bon Bake Shop, Hartman said.

“If you look at the food trends among Millennials, they are really looking for things that are bite-sized, and they are all about sharing,” she said. “In many ways, they are more conscious of calories. This opens us up to a broader spectrum of Millennial customers, to those that are looking for a boutique feel.”

Atlanta-based Cinnabon has already expanded its brand into a wide variety of items, including Cinnabon-flavored vodka and a broad assortment of retail grocery items, such as Pillsbury rolls and flavored nuts.

It has also partnered with other foodservice establishments, such as co-branded units with Focus Brands sibling Schlotzsky’s, and featured menu items at Taco Bell, which is promoting two bite-sized Cinnabon Delights on its new Dollar Cravings menu.

Cinnabon is owned by Focus Brands, which is an affiliate of Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group. It has close to 1,200 units in the United States and abroad.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless