Bakers Journal

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Kettlemans Bagels

How a bakery raised thousands of dollars for charity in four hours


September 11, 2020
By Bakers Journal


Topics
Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood Kettlemans. The bagel café chain is gaining popularity, and is expanding to multiple locations across Canada.

COVID-19 has affected many bakers, but Kettlemans Bagels rose above it all. Most of their sales are driven by dine-in and take-out orders. “To give you an idea, our three stores that generate about $12 million annually in revenue, and only 10 per cent of that is from wholesale,” said company director of operations Amer Wahab.

The bagel franchise attributes its popularity to the quality of its product, made with a high protein flour. “We use a high gluten flour, packaged for us by ADM,” explains Craig Buckley, the Founder of Kettlemans. “It’s the flour we’ve been using over the last 20 years. Everybody talks about how great the pasta is in Italy and how the bread in France is amazing. The funny thing is that all of Europe brings in Canadian flour to strengthen their flour: the flours they have aren’t strong enough.”

The bakeries have earned a devoted following, attributed not just to Kettlemans bagels alone: Where the bakery is devoted to its standards of quality in flour and tradition, that same attention to excellence is paid back in its attention to the community it serves.

“That’s a philosophy that we share,” says Wahab. “Buckley also adds, “it’s an opportunity for us to help, not just driven by us, but by the cause itself,” referring to their initiative, ‘Dine to Donate.’ “Who doesn’t want to come to Kettlemans and have a great bagel, and know that the money generated from that is going to go towards a good cause?” He adds that offering their bagels as a motivation to give to charity has worked well.

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“Dine to Donate,” was set up to raise funds between an announced period of time on set dates: Whenever someone buys bagels, “all revenue generated between that time, we give 100 per cent to go to that cause,” explains Wahab.

Among many of the bakeries charities Kettlemans donates to, Camp Misquah is the charity that is closest to their hearts. “The Misquah Recreational Group is dedicated to providing a memorable experience to people with developmental disabilities of all ages, and to ensure that the experience is financially accessible for all,” stated Wahab.

“We’re proud to support our neighbourhoods through in-shop fundraisers, gift card fundraising and in-kind donations. Our team will work together with your group and schools to create a unique and memorable fundraiser.”

The bakery utilizes social media to promote their charity work as well as their face-to-face network of clients, friends and family. Much to Wahab and Buckley’s delight, their “Dine to Donate” initiative raised thousand of dollars within four hours to the aforementioned Misquah Recreational Group.

“You don’t want to advertise the initiative too far in advance and you want to keep it fresh in peoples’ minds, so we usually start about four days prior, and then the day of the event, too,” suggests Buckley.

How does the bakery choose which charity is worthy of promoting through their Dine to Donate program? “We get a lot of people asking for donations daily and everybody is deserving. You know, there’s so many people that are looking for donations that are badly needed…we’re still a relatively small business, unlike, say, Apple or Walmart,” said Buckley. “What we did was to pick a charity that meant a lot to us. Amer knows someone who bought Camp Misquah for all the right reasons, to help the association. They brought it to my attention, which meant a lot to me, because a close childhood friend was born with Down Syndrome.” Buckley adds that charities for people living with developmental challenges often do not get the amount of donations they need.

“Any fundraisers that we do, will go towards Camp Misquah, since they need so much. We’re just a drop in the bucket, because they need a new kitchen and dining room… they need a whole bunch of stuff, so we’re trying to help as best we can.” Buckley adds that he was amazed how the group operates on a 100 per cent charity budget without profit to provide a camp for mentally delayed children and adults.

Buckley adds that Kettlemans is in a unique position to help. “Unlike other small bakeries, where a lot of their customers come from within a five or even ten kilometer radius, our stores are basically factories, so people come not just from in and around the city, but within the province and Canada as well. They come to our store specifically because they love our offerings.”

Kettlemans Bagels has a generous heart, and their brand is growing. In discussion with Bakers Journal,Buckley offered that they intend to open a shop in Toronto. “Hopefully in late September. We’ve already started construction.” With big hearts and a wide fan base, Kettlemans is sure to win over more clients in the future.

If you would like to help Camp Misquah go online to: https://www.campmisquah.com/donate