OEV Community Connections Pt. 5: Artisan Bakery
We’re moving into nearly two months of socially distant times and we continue to see more businesses in Old East Village pivot to new service offerings in order to remain available to customers and connected to their community. In pt. 5 of ‘OEV Community Connections’ we spoke to Artisan Bakery (864 Dundas) owner, Paulette Elie about their shift to curb side pickup, as well as the many other community-minded efforts this establishment offers.
Artisan is a true OEV community gem as it’s family run by individuals who’ve called the neighbourhood home for decades. Although the bakery itself existed before the Elie family was at the helm, in December of 2019, they celebrated the fourth anniversary of Artisan Bakery as we know it today.
“Artisan is about traditional production with no preservatives, we want to keep doing it the old fashioned way” Paulette told us.
Along with the desire to preserve tradition without preservatives, Artisan has another key endeavour that they’ve been working towards since the beginning: going green. Paulette confirmed that they have managed to remove the use of all plastic in the bakery except for disposable knives and forks, the next hurdle Paulette is determined to overcome.
However, things changed dramatically for Artisan in mid March, like so many other area businesses. They remained open with heightened sanitation practices for two weeks but eventually made the difficult decision to shut down the bakery while they determined a game plan behind the scenes.
“The most important thing for Kaleb and I was the safety of our staff and customers as well as ourselves.”
During the shutdown, as Paulette confirmed, the staff received an unexpected (and welcomed!) vacation while a new website was built to accommodate online orders. She also noted that the website was created entirely in house and they are very proud of it! As they should be.
With a new website up and running, as of April 26, Artisan began accepting orders online for curb side pick up at the bakery.
“Our loyal customers came in droves! We were so pleased. By week two, we had doubled our order number from the week before” Paulette happily said.
To begin with, there were some limitations to what the menu offerings could be considering the bakery, like so many others, is at the mercy of supply chains and now more than ever, delays are rampant.
Paulette told us it was very hard to get items like dill and takeout bags as most restaurants and bakeries are offering some form of takeout or delivery. However, never fear, dill and bags were procured and Artisan was off on their journey towards full menu offerings which is growing every day.
Many of the all-time Artisan favourites are already back including Chicken Pot Pie, Butter Croissants, several varieties of bread, now including the one and only Dill Pickle Bread!
As the menu grows and the support continues to come in, Paulette says she hopes to have more staff members back (with social distancing safety requirements in place), to re-open their Western Fair Market location, and a delivery service may be on the horizon. But for now, Artisan plans to continue their curb side pickup offerings as long as needed to ensure the safety for all.
“We really do miss our regulars who would gather in the bakery, sometimes up to 15 people just chatting.”
It’s a tough reality for so many right now but support comes in many forms and from many levels. As Paulette stated “we’ve felt so supported by our community, we’re not fighting with each other, we’re fighting for each other,” a sentiment that is so true of OEV businesses at the best of times and now, as we’ve seen, at the hardest of times.
In addition to the hustle and bustle of organizing curb side pick options and a testament to Artisan’s commitment to going green, Paulette has been hard at work starting seedlings for the Old East Common. This community garden is directly behind the building, and is by managed by Artisan’s neighbours, Life*Spin. The organization and its volunteers have been working to get the garden ready and now with seedlings from Paulette’s nearby home and compost from Artisan’s recipes, they are all set to go! Yet another layer of community connections stemming from this OEV business.
“Using more than 1000 seeds, we’ve started nearly every kind of vegetable to be planted in the garden. The volunteers and the children are excited to be able to do this.”
As in the Second World War, they will be calling this a ‘Victory Garden’ and upon harvest, many of the veggies will become ingredients in Artisan’s baked goods so stay tuned!
So amid an array of challenges, Artisan Bakery has worked their hardest to be as positive as possible. Paulette told us they frequently hear the phrase “I don’t know what you’re baking but it made me come in” from a friendly passerby. And although that may not be able to happen again for a bit longer, the curb side pickup and the continued connections it provides will certainly suffice.
See what other Community Connections are happening daily in OEV right here!