Attitude of Gratitude
Luscious Bakery thinks of better days ahead
By Bakers Journal
Bakers Journal chatted with the owners of Luscious Bakery Deli Café, to find out how they are reaching out to their community, especially during the pandemic. Despite being a seasonal bakery, Luscious has seen “double digit” growth since its inception in 2012. What’s their secret? Karen and Chris Koos embody what they call an “attitude of gratitude,” that wins clients and neighbours alike. Their cookies reflect the bakery’s creativity, and charitable heart.
“In 2017 and 2018, our focus was our $2 Purple Ribbon Sugar Cookie Campaign. Following our son’s life-changing surgery in December 2016, we decided to bake, decorate and sell purple ribbon cookies, donating all the proceeds to Epilepsy Southwestern Ontario,” said Chris Koos.
“The purple ribbon cookie, of course, is near and dear to our hearts. Our son suffered with epilepsy for 20 years…we’re happy to say he has now been seizure free for three years since his surgery,” added Karen Koos.
The bakery still updates its inventory with “brains” cookies that are a hit with fans of zombie lore and cookie lovers alike.
Despite having a personal connection to epilepsy, it’s not the only cause the bakery supports. “In 2019, our charity of choice was the Canadian Mental Health Association with the sale of decorated unicorn cookies. At the end of the season, an In Memoriam donation was made on behalf of one of our young employees who passed away suddenly due to suicide last year.”
Luscious Bakery had the blessing of her family for the memoriam donation to the Canadian Mental Health Association. “We already had a ribbon campaign happening,” explained Karen about the unicorn design, inspired by the deceased employee whose name the bakery asked not to be printed. “When she was having a bad day, she would try to remind herself of rainbows, butterflies and unicorns, so we chose a unicorn sugar cookie. All of the proceeds of the unicorn sugar cookies went to Mental Health Grey Bruce, with her name and her birth date and the year she passed away.”
The pair understands that everyone has difficult times and sometimes need a leg up. Chris informs Bakers Journal that the bakery’s motto is ‘interaction before transaction.’ “That’s that was kind of our slogan for the longest time because Daniel loves to talk, and we do too…we’re genuinely interested in people’s story, whether they are a tourist or our neighbour.” His wife chimes in, “Basically, we don’t say no to anyone. Everyone gets something, whether it’s a gift certificate to raffle off, or a basket of product for their charity. You kind of get to know everyone. We just wanted to be a part of their lives. And we’re genuinely interested in other people and what their story was.”
Luscious Bakery weaves itself into the fabric of Sauble Beach’s life by promoting its local attractions and businesses. “We have a map posted, where you can find this or that activity. Great for the kids on a rainy day, and our whole concept was based around it.” Using that map as a cross-promotional tool, other businesses return the favour by placing orders and take out.
“We’re heading into our ninth season now,” says Chris. “Like Karen said we increased our business, double digits every year since 2012. It’s a family run business with Karen, myself and Daniel…but it’s been tougher and tougher, every year since. Definitely since 2014, to try to get the staff we require considering the amount of volume that has increased.”
Karen chimes in, “I’d like to work a little less and I’d like to grandparent a little more. When we first bought the bakery, we thought we’d be able to do this for fifteen years but we’ve become so busy.” The couple is selling the bakery that has been the hub of the Sauble Beach community, but they are looking for owners with similar values, first and foremost.
“Our concern for the community in itself has really been our success. I think we believe that in our hearts, only because we are so happy with the choices we’ve made in this area,” states Karen. “The interactions we’ve been able to gain has allowed our success as well; we truly believe that can’t be trained. I think it has to be innate to the purchaser of our business. They will enjoy similar or, even better success.” Chris adds, “basically, it’s all about the amount of interest and care people have; the passion for serving a community. That’s really what we’re looking for in a buyer.”
The pandemic has put a new twist in the baking power-couple’s plans. Since the bakery was posted for sale just before the lockdown began, realtors had not been able to enter nor sell the property. However, that didn’t stop the Koos from selling bread to the neighbourhood (from a safe, contact-free distance, of course.)
The bakery continues to sell cookies and has teamed up with Reunion Island Coffee Roasters, and they deliver coffee, cookies and breads to customers who call in their orders.
“We’ve had a chance to observe what other similar industries are doing. As far as contactless pick up goes, we won’t be open as a storefront. But people like us, and they can call in pre orders and prepay through e-transfer. When they pull up their car to the door, we have them pop their trunk or we’ll just open their backseat door and pop in their prepaid order.”
It’s through partnerships with other companies and connections to people that keep this bakery running in tough times.