Celebrating Good Food and Great Benefits
Over a slice of pound cake — the kind with a lemon zest glaze that cracks, revealing a blissfully elegant crumb — Felix Rippel takes a sip of his coffee and reflects on a lifetime in the food business.“Bakeries are about warmth and the heart of things and making people happy. Pizza is about celebration. And all of that is who I am,” says Rippel, the CEO of Lovejoy Bakers and Pizzicato Pizza — two Portland restaurant chains with the same ownership.
Over a slice of pound cake — the kind with a lemon zest glaze that cracks, revealing a blissfully elegant crumb — Felix Rippel takes a sip of his coffee and reflects on a lifetime in the food business.
“Bakeries are about warmth and the heart of things and making people happy. Pizza is about celebration. And all of that is who I am,” says Rippel, the CEO of Lovejoy Bakers and Pizzicato Pizza—two Portland restaurant chains with the same ownership. “I want to run a company that can exude those things to our staff and customers.”
It appears he does just that.
Bakeries are about warmth and the heart of things and making people happy. Pizza is about celebration.
Pizzicato Pizza was founded in 1989 by Tracy and Marc Frankel. What began as a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria now extends to 17 locations in two states with a fan following. They entered the scene when frozen dough and canned sauce were standard, and they offered something different — fresh ingredients and creative options.
But starting a bakery was always Marc’s passion and, in 2010, the duo opened the first of three Portland locations. Lovejoy Bakers offers classic rustic breads and pastries (like that now long-gone pound cake), in cozy cafes complete with European-style outdoor seating. Together, the businesses employ about 350 people.
Career Pathing for the Pizza Guy
In 2014, Felix and the company began implementing more robust employee benefits. They looked at maternity and paternity leave, 401(k) plans, child care matching, employee scholarships at Portland State University and more. They were also on the lookout for a new health insurance benefits provider — which is how they found BCI Group. The goal, Rippel says, wasn’t a cost-savings undertaking, but a pledge to find great service, accountability and communication.
Christie Bui, director of human resources for Pizzicato Pizza and Lovejoy Bakers, couldn’t agree more. She’s been with the company for eight years and advocated for a new benefits broker, which lead them to BCI. “From an HR perspective, BCI Group has gone above and beyond what we anticipated and Tracy and Sarah actively help our employees,” she says.
"You meet Tracy [Vicario] at BCI and she’s that person who exudes trust, personality and professionalism. We certainly struck gold with BCI Group." — Felix Rippel, CEO of Lovejoy Bakers and Pizzicato Pizza
BCI administers health benefits for Lovejoy Bakers and Pizzicato Pizza’s 350 employees, which includes medical, dental, vision, supplemental care and flexible spending accounts.
“Our demographic is young. It’s a lot of people just like me 20 years ago, where you might not see that working as a dishwasher or delivering pizza can lead to a career,” Rippel says. “Can you see someone going from being a pizza guy to being in a position like mine? Well, I can. And we work to be a company that can do that.”