The Bakery of Bliss
December 4, 2007
By Myron Love
A tiny Edmonton bakery looks to make a go of it in the world of Kosher baking.
Edmonton baker Lawrence Bliss describes himself as an anomaly in the industry.
“Places like mine don’t usually make it,” he says of his 495 square foot bakery located in an industrial area of Edmonton. “I’m making it.”
This past year, Bliss grossed about $80,000. Business has been growing steadily, he says. And while he’s just making enough to get by, Bliss is hopeful that a couple of more years in business will bring a healthier bottom line.
He credits his success to hard work and chutzpah. He also talks about passion. And, he adds, “you can’t afford to think small!”
“You also have to be prepared to give up some of your life – especially sleep – for a few years to get the business up and running,” he adds.
Bliss actually began baking bread at home as a hobby while recuperating from back surgery (he injured his back while working as a butcher).
“I needed to be doing some exercise,” he says.
After a time, he was making more than enough bread for his own family and started giving his challah away.
“After almost five years at home, it got to be too much,” he says. “I got some seed money and found this location in this industrial park,” he says. “It’s a good location because I am only open Monday through Friday, the same hours as the nearby businesses.”
Bliss spent four or five months acquiring his equipment – including secondhand mixers and a work table – and setting up.
“I was working with a small budget and wanted to stay within that budget,” he says. “The place had been vacant for a while so the landlord was prepared to wait until I was ready.”
Bliss Baked Goods opened three years ago. Because the bakery is a kosher bakery, its products are all lactose-free. (In a kosher bakery, you are not allowed to mix milk derivatives and meat derivatives. Bliss’ breads and pastries are “pareve,” which means they contain neither milk or meat derivatives.)
Last July, the bakery became nut-free as well to accommodate school orders.
Bliss employs two part-time assistants. He says that he himself puts in 80 hours of work a week.
All Bliss products are freshly baked. Bliss notes that he doesn’t have the space to hold products over until the next day.
Bliss Baked Goods breads include white, whole wheat, nine grains and several ryes. “My signature breads are my marble rye and my challahs,” he says.
As the only kosher bakery in Edmonton, Bliss Baked Goods has become something of a destination store despite its out of the way location.
Bliss has also taught himself to be a pastry chef. “After my third pastry chef quit, I decided to learn how to make pastry myself,” he says. “I have created some of my own pastries such as my apple caramel cinnamon Danish. I dream about pastries and create them.”
Bliss bakes everything from scratch. He says that he is always experimenting to find different ways to do things.
“Otherwise this would be boring,” he says.
His next project may be learning how to make doughnuts.
“I have to see if I can reconfigure an area in the store to make room for them,” he says. “I think doughnuts would put us over the top. There are very few bakers in Edmonton making doughnuts and I know there is a demand. I have customers asking me for them.”
Lunchtime sandwiches (tuna, egg and salmon), soups and chili for the office crowd in the area are a logical and profitable part of Bliss’ business.
And unlike most other Edmonton bakers, Bliss stays open in the evenings until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. for customers going home from work.
There may be bigger things on the horizon for baker Lawrence Bliss. He reports that he has been approached by a food processor about supplying challah for a bread pudding the processor has in mind.
“I’m interested,” he says, “but we will have to wait and see if anything comes of it.”
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