As I write this, the staff at Annex Business Media have been working from home for over two and a half months. I have been working from home, but still keeping myself connected to the baking industry, though not in as personal a manner as I would like.
I used to go directly into a bakery, chat with whoever was behind the counter, ask what their favourite item was, and speak with the owner. I’d speak with customers, take photos of the area, staff interacting with clients, close up shots of food offerings, and of course, would buy myself a treat.
Today, I can still go in a chat (briefly!) with whoever is behind the counter. I’m mindful of the line-up behind me, so I don’t linger. Any interview I schedule with the owners or bakery staff are all by phone or Internet meetings. A large plastic barrier keeps the staff safe from any customer who isn’t wearing a mask, and after every transaction, clerks wipe down the counter with disinfectant wipes, sanitize the Interac machine and almost every item is behind the counter or safely behind glass in the display case. There are no samples to handle, no clients lingering longer than their transaction, and all line-ups are measured out with a distance of two meters.
The biggest change I’ve observed was how many bakers became “Good Neighbours” providing more than unsold goods at the end of the day. Bakeries and cafés like Kitchen Smidgen and Brodflour have taken to teaming up with unlikely, but ultimately logical businesses to keep each other’s company running.
June 2020, Bakers Journal unveiled the “Good Neighbour” series. Both Bakers Journal and its sister publication, Canadian Pizza magazine are sharing stories of bakers who think outside the pastry (or pizza) box. These restaurants, cafés and bakeries are preventing their staff from drowning in debt by helping keep their neighbours’ heads above water, too. By combining products from other companies or affiliating their brands with a company with similar values, these Good Neighbours are bringing communities and businesses together.
Previously, bakeries that worked strictly via phone-in orders for pickup now add curbside pickup or direct delivery to their roster. Cafés that marketed their wares through social media or flyers are now updating their websites to include contactless payments, or affiliations with online food delivery services to keep their lunchtime clients. Brunch used to mean a visit to a café; now the social element is added by attaching a zoom link to a brunch order so friends can share baked goods and gossips from the safety of their homes.
In this issue, you will learn about how Brodflour teamed up with a kombucha-brewing company to create a curated, healthy grocery bag for those looking for upscale healthy foods. You’ll read about Kitchen Smidgen, and how they did wonders for a florist shop by offering to sell “cookie bouquets” that paired flowers with flour-products.
Whether your company is working on curbside pickup, or developing your online brand for delivery or take-out, Bakers Journal would love to hear your story, and share your innovations, fears and successes with the world. The pandemic may have changed the way the food industry operates, but at heart, we’re confident that talent and business acumen will help keep your company thrive.
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