Union-represented Foxes Boxes bakery, cafe expands staff, opens new location in Metro-East

Illinois Correspondent

FOXES BOXES owner Tanya Fox (center, with big scissors) cuts the ribbon in front of her new Bethalto location as UNITE HERE Local 74 President Kim Bartholomew (to Fox’s left) and Mayor Gary Bost (to Bartholomew’s left) join a crowd of well-wishers. – Labor Tribune photo

Bethalto, IL – The only union bakery in the Metro-East area has now tripled its size and its staff. Foxes Boxes officially cut the ribbon on its new Bethalto, Ill. location Jan. 14, with a standing-room-only crowd and the cheers of local residents and public officials.

Foxes Boxes has been in business for 10 years, but only had a brick-and-mortar location for the last two. It was a 700-square-foot bakery in East Alton, Ill., with one employee. Opening just in time to get shellacked with the pandemic, it nevertheless grew to the point where a larger location with room for seating was necessary.

So owners Tanya Fox and Brian Holmes moved to a former Imo’s location in Bethalto, increasing to 2,500-square-feet and 5-7 staff members – all union.

“They’ve been union for more than a year,” said UNITE HERE Local 74 President Kim Bartholomew. UNITE HERE represents hotel and restaurant workers in the area, working to bring fairness, decent wages and working conditions to restaurant, bar and hotel workers. Bartholomew said they were able to negotiate free health and dental insurance, among other benefits, for the full-time workers at Foxes Boxes.

CELEBRATING THE EXPANSION of Foxes Boxes (from left) UNITE HERE Local 74 President Kim Bartholomew (left), Foxes Boxes owner Tanya Fox and Local 74 Business Representative Krystal George celebrate the expansion of the union house. Foxes Boxes is the only union bakery in the Metro-East area. – Labor Tribune photo

Foxes Boxes is a café, serving pastries and sandwiches and salads and coffee, all locally sourced and scratch-made. Menu items range from biscuits and gravy to pitas to French macarons, among many other offerings. They also sell locally-grown flower bouquets, famous for the sunflowers that also adorn the walls of the café.

Fox said she refuses to use anything premade like canned pie fillings or frozen pie crusts. Originally from London, Fox came to the Metro-East with her husband, Brian Holmes, and they began selling her pastries and handpicked flower bouquets at local markets before opening their first location in East Alton.

Fox said it’s the homemade quality of their products that makes Foxes Boxes unique, and of course that depends on the people working in the bakery. “We like being union!” she said, smiling for photos with Bartholomew as the bakery filled with well-wishers on their ribbon-cutting day.

THE LINE WAS OUT THE DOOR at Foxes Boxes on the day of its ribbon-cutting at the new location in Bethalto, Ill. – Labor Tribune photo

“Tanya has her local followers who will follow her wherever she goes, but now she has new followers, which is great,” said Stephanie Withers of the Riverbend Growth Association. As the local Chamber of Commerce, Withers and Bethalto Mayor Gary Bost joined for the ribbon-cutting in front of the new location.

“We wouldn’t all be able to fit in her old place in East Alton!” Withers told the crowd. “We are so thrilled that (Fox) chose to stay in the Riverbend area… I know Bethalto is going to embrace you and be a pillar of support for you. Continue to show your support and shop local: they are the roots of our community.”

Business representative Krystal George said it’s “fantastic” to see a union shop expand and be welcomed by the community. “It’s getting union workers the opportunity to do what they love,” she said.

Foxes Boxes is open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 8 a.m. to noon Sundays at 515A N. Bellwood, Bethalto, Ill.

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