And now for the Butter Tarts!


The idea to launch new menu items arose from our May strategy session. After brainstorming awhile, we used the time-tested “red dot” approach to choose 6 ideas to move forward right away.

[In case you don’t know what the red dot approach is, each person involved gets an arbitrary number of those red dots used to legally seal signatures – say, 10-  to paste under any one idea or several ideas. After the group has done this, the clustering of red dots is a clear visual statement as to the group’s implicit decision. ]

The expansion of our menu to include two new sizes of cupcakes – um, maybe one would be called, like, a cake – and mini brownies, tarts and cookies won over everyone on the senior PGB team so we dove right in.


I wouldn’t say anyone thought it would be “easy” but I have new respect for McDonalds and their salads or Burger King and their Pretzel Burger. To bring on something really new – as in, newer than a new Treat of the Week which we’ve become pretty good at introducing –  requires product testing, designing new boxes and bags, costing the ingredients, pricing decisions, website updates, product photography, new acrylic trays in the storefront, revised menu cards and menu boards and of course scaling production from one dozen tarts to…well, that is another question…how many to make in the initial days?

Production includes a whole other level of planning and change: a new shift, new people for the shift, training, new pans and equipment, deciding where these products will be baked and if not baked in every store, figuring out how those butter tarts find their way from Yorkville to FCP?

In the enthusiastic May meeting we cautiously targeted a rollout by Thanksgiving…but by September 1st we were saying, “Ha!” to that…and we are now aiming for mid November.

At this point in the post I should have some nugget of advice but I really don’t other than (1) I think it is essential to stay current with what customers want, and (2) it takes time to innovate and you are likely better estimating more time than less.


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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