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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sara Lee to acquire Cyrus O’Leary’s Pies

Cyrus O'Leary's Pies will be acquired by Sara Lee, according to an announcement made Monday afternoon. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Sara Lee Frozen Bakery has agreed to acquire Cyrus O’Leary’s Pies, the Airway Heights-based bakery that has been a household name in Spokane since 1981.

The terms of the purchase will remain private, said Barclay Klingel, Cyrus O’ Leary’s CEO.

The deal is expected to close by the end of March. Klingel said he began conversations with Sara Lee about a year ago. Though he has received offers throughout his 30 years of ownership (Klingel owns 50% of the company), this was the first he considered.

“We didn’t have a succession plan in place,” Klingel said. “That was a big part of what intrigued me. The business world today gets more and more competitive, it gets more and more complex. Having the resources of a big company with an established track record was very appealing to us.”

Cyrus O’ Leary’s will keep its 115 employees, who are responsible for producing approximately 13 million pies a year, Klingel said.

Cyrus O’Leary’s began in a downtown restaurant in 1981 before opening the commercial Airway Heights facility in 1987 to keep pace with national distribution. The restaurant closed its doors in 2011.

Sara Lee headquarters are located in a Chicago suburb, but has bakeries in Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Ontario, and employs 1,300 people. Kohlberg and Company, a private equity firm, acquired Sara Lee Frozen Bakery from Tyson Foods in July 2018. With the acquisition of Cyrus O’Leary’s, the company will own five brands in addition to the Sara Lee brand.

Though many Sara Lee products can be found in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store, the company was interested in Cyrus O’Leary’s because of its placement in the bakery section of groceries across the country, Klingel said.

Klingel – who will remain in his role and report to Craig Bahner, Sara Lee Frozen Bakery CEO – said Sara Lee was a cultural fit for Cyrus O’Leary’s.

“We announced this internally to all of our team members this morning, and we had a very positive response,” Klingel said. “Everybody’s excited about what Sara Lee brings to our organization.”