Delivering Fresh Bread: A Toronto bakery helps revives home delivery.
March 5, 2008 By Jane Ayer
It used to be that most people had bread delivered to their homes along with their milk. But home delivery stopped years ago, made obsolete by the expense and operational difficulties of offering such a service. Micaelense Home Bakery is hoping to change that with www.freshbread.ca, a new bread delivery service residents of Toronto are eating up.
|One of Micaelense Home Bakery’s many delivery vans.|
It all began when brothers Clemente and Tony Rebelo of Micaelense were approached by an IT guy with a craving for fresh bread and a vision: an online site where condo dwellers could order bread by 3pm one day, and have it delivered to the front door of their building the next. With 500 to 600 units in each building, over 35 000 condominium units already in the city, and that number predicted to grow to 80 000 over the next five years, it was an idea with a market. It just didn’t have a supplier. Tony instantly loved the idea: for him, it was like returning to the roots of his family’s Portuguese bakery, which was started by his father in 1958. The bakery had a long history of delivering bread to customers since the very beginning and only stopped its home delivery service for good in 1998. “For us, it was like reliving our father’s footsteps.”
The bakery, which is primarily wholesale and provides bread and buns to restaurants and hotels in the city, already had an early morning delivery route in the city’s downtown area, where most of the condominiums are concentrated. So after meeting with a number of the management companies responsible for the buildings (to secure permission to deliver directly to each condo’s concierge), and doing a ghost run of the delivery (fitting it in with Micaelense’s regular customer deliveries), www.freshbread.ca was launched in October.
|Tony Rebelo says many of his Freshbread.ca customers order a number of items at once, including bread, bagels and croissants.|
Being and online service, any extra “overhead is minimal,” says Tony. “We didn’t add another truck or have to hire extra employees.” Freshbread.ca now has 45 condos on its delivery route, and is currently fielding about 60 orders a day during the week and 120 orders a day on weekends.
Customers create an account, choose the products they’re interested in and pay, all online. News of the business has mostly spread by word of mouth: one neighbour sees another neighbour pick up a fresh baguette or half a dozen croissants from his concierge along with his morning newspaper and is intrigued. Freshbread.ca has also received some good free buzz from online newsletters and other consumer publications.
Tony admits the venture is not quite where they’d like it to be (a minimum of 300 orders a day), but he’s optimistic it will get there. “It’s a new challenge. This is something that will take off. It just needs time.”
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