3 Essential Questions for a New Business


Two months since my last post!!
Sorry about that but let me say in my defense: I have been grappling with some big Sticky stuff!
Overall, everything is fantastic: I am so, so excited with the website – it’s so sweet and soon will be ready to send to family and friends for a sneak peek.
And the recipes, OMG, I am really happy with them.
The above-mentioned family and friends are fervently hoping to never get a text from me again that begins, “So I’ve been test baking today…” because they are tired of being prodded for their honest feedback on Sticky’s line-up.
But the recipes are, I believe, perfect now and I am proud of the hours I have spent getting them that way.
But here’s the really sticky (no pun intended) thing: where and how to bake.
And yes, I know, these are rather considerable issues.
For where, there are 5 options from what I have figured out:
1. Bake out of your own kitchen – fairly early on in the pandemic, the Ontario government said this was ok for low risk food production (like baking).
2. Use a commissary kitchen aka a ghost kitchen.
3. Ask an existing bakery to bake there in their off hours.
4. Lease a space and build out your own bakery.
5. Buy a building, buildout part of it for your bakery and rent the rest of the building to other tenants.
I have researched and investigated all of these options and – in a sentence or less- here is what I think of them:
1. What would I do with Minnie and Ellie? (which reminds me of the April Fool’s trick I wanted to play on the head baker in the first year of Prairie Girl: set up cat food and water dishes near the entrance so she would think, in her bleary-morning state, that I’d brought my beloved Betsy in).
2. Some commissary kitchens are far, far away; some are sketchy; some are dirty….like Goldilocks, I have not yet found the one.
3. This is a work in process – most bakeries are fully engaged, thank you very much.
4. Contrary to my initial assumptions, even though culturally we are still not nearly back to “normal” for entertaining, celebrating and all the things, rental rates for foodservice space seem to be staying at the same high YYZ levels.
5. Yea, no.

Oh and the other little issue I am dealing with is how. I am a home baker who is pretty good at wrestling recipes to the ground until they are delicious. But – and this likely goes without saying – I do not have anywhere near the ability to bake at a commercial volume level.
As you have no doubt read in the media, or maybe know from your personal experience, the foodservice industry has been really hard on its people during the pandemic, from the extended lockdown days to some continuing bad behavior by some customers and patrons.
Not surprisingly, many of the bright and capable people in foodservice before March of 2020 have retrained, no longer finding themselves interested in baking or cooking or serving.
This exodus from the industry is a huge issue (the how in my Sticky plans) that I definitely need to address.
So there you go- I am strong on the what of my new business – still wobbly on the where and how.




About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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