By Linda Hersey
By Linda Hersey
A Maritime no-sugar, low-fat bakery has found its niche.
When choosing a healthy lifestyle, it's important to find the right bakery.
Landry's Homestyle Bakery, on the corner of Main and Robinson in downtown Moncton, N.B., fits the bill very nicely.
It was in 1996 when owner, Normand Landry, decided to switch careers. Armed with three university degrees (physical education, education and gerontology), he had worked for 15 years in physical conditioning for seniors. After much thought, he purchased the bakery, which had been at that location for some time.
"I was always a really good cook," he says, "so I bought the bakery, watched what was going on, worked and helped."
At the outset, he stayed the course with a traditional product line that included plenty of "one of the best breads in the city.” However, there were a number of deciding factors that led him to eliminate bread from his shelves.
"I stopped making bread because it just wasn't profitable," he explains.
"I looked at that, and at the amount of time it took. When I bought the business, the clientele was older, and then [the City] re-did Robinson Street, which took five months, and I lost 75 per cent of my clientele because there was absolutely no parking at all. All the workers parked in front of the bakery, so if you wanted to come here … it was too far for them to walk. We specialize in muffins right now, muffins and cookies — both no-sugar and low-fat products, and regular."
In a definite win-win situation, he sends all bread customers to another bakery in town – which, in turn, sends their customers to Landry's for muffins and cookies.
There's no end to the sweet aromas coming from Normand's 1,000-square-foot bakery on St. George, where daughter Denise also works. The decision was made to cater to diabetics with sugar-free products, and, subsequently, they took it one step further to include low-fat baking (a bit of vegetable oil and a little margarine) for health-conscious consumers. That's where daughter Michelin, a teacher — and an excellent cook — came in.
A university student at the time, she came up with recipes for those unable to have sugar. Splenda® had just come on the market, so she did extensive research, consulting with medical specialists, and all agreed that it was a good product. Satisfied with the results of her study, she began experimenting with various recipes, modifying them until she was pleased with the taste. When she felt the recipes worked, baking for customers began — and they came.
"We started with this no-sugar, low-fat stuff for the (tenant) upstairs, and a few more people came in — people who were watching their weight. They tried it and they really liked it, so then all of a sudden, I had all these clients that were watching their weight and cutting out the sugar. I also supply the main entrance canteens for both hospitals (in Moncton), and they sell a ton of muffins down there.
"I make 2,500 to 3,000 muffins a week, and we still make them all in a bowl, one or two dozen at a time, so it's not machine-made. That way, I maintain my quality, the way I want it. The muffins run around three grams of fat, and very, very, low salt."
Also, since most clients were coming on weekends to purchase their week's supply, Normand found it wasn't feasible to have the shop open Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. On Saturdays, he is a very popular merchant at the Dieppe Farmers Market.
Indeed, customers come from as far away as Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island — even Boston, where a customer travels to Moncton every few months, and "buys a whole lot of stuff.”
They have found what works, and they can't bake it fast enough. There are also seasonal goods for Christmas and summertime, but muffins and cookies have become their mainstay.
Their popularity is not surprising, as they continue to offer consumers a delicious healthy option. Even better, it has that special homemade touch that customers at Landry's Homestyle Bakery have come to love.
"I just bake them in an electric oven, the same as you would. We developed all the recipes so that we could use conventional ovens, like you would have in your own home. We thought, well, it's better to develop the recipes for that," he says, "than just for bakery ovens."