Meet Kevin, Mission’s new favourite baker. Meet Sue, his lovely wife who manages to keep a full time, family business running smoothly each and every day.
Kevin is from Burlington, Ontario and spent 22 years as a bakery supervisor, specialist and store manager with Loblaws (Real Canadian Superstore). His career with the grocery store took him across Canada and finally landed him in Mission in 2005.
Due to layoffs across Canada, Kevin lost his job with the company. Never one to miss an opportunity though, he immediately recognized that this might be his perfect moment to open up his own bakery.
Local bakers are known to gain popularity by simply producing delicious products that make people happy, so the bakery was destined to be a hit.
Throwing a few names around, the family eventually came up with Bear Country Bakery, due to the excessive amounts of signs seen around the Fraser Valley warning people that they are, in fact, literally in Bear Country.
From the very beginning, they supported small businesses in the community such as Nutek Signs and Tea Time for all of their design and decor. Bear Country Bakery opened their doors on April 20, 2018.
It was a scramble from the very beginning, as the community flocked to indulge in the new variety of baked goods available in town.
“Not long after we first opened, someone posted a picture of one of our strawberry cheesecakes on Mission BC & Neighbours on Facebook,” Sue said. “Suddenly we ended up making 60+ strawberry cheesecakes within a week!”
They have faced their own share of challenges along the way. Finding the right balance for a family run business can be a bit of a struggle.
“We invested in quite a lot of labour at the beginning,” Sue admits. “Now it’s mostly just the family working here, with one part timer coming in to help out every now and then.”
Kevin and Sue really do run a family business, and if you’ve been in there at all, you will immediately see that it is run like a well oiled machine. Kevin is the baker, creating 90 per cent of the product in the shop. Sue manages the front, focusing mostly on ensuring that customers are smiling and satisfied.
Larisa, their daughter, is the top cake decorator, while their son, Paul, comes in occasionally and does odd jobs, such as cleaning, slicing bread and packing goods to be delivered. They both work a couple of times each week.
In the past two years, they’ve received some unusual baking requests.
“People phone in and want us to make them a St. Honoré cake or Hungarian Dobosh Torte,” Sue said.
St. Honoré cake, a classic French dessert, is a circle of puff pastry at its base with a ring of pâte à choux (light pastry dough) piped on the outer edge. Small baked cream puffs are dipped in caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top.
Hungarian Dobosh Torte is a Hungarian sponge cake consisting of seven layers filled with rich chocolate buttercream, topped with caramel and sometimes coated with ground hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts or almonds.
“We also get a lot of Keto request.”
Kevin uses a low carb multi seed and flax rye to create the Keto products and proudly sells bread, buns, scones, muffins, brownies and cheesecake.
“It has definitely brought more customers in,” says Sue.
Supporting the community has always been a top priority for Kevin and Sue. In addition to providing all of the bread, buns and baked goods for the Northview Community Church campuses, they also help out smaller non-profits and charitable organizations such as The Mission Elks, the Mission Food Bank, Mission Hospice, St. Joseph’s Catholic Women’s League and do a weekly bread and bun donation to the Mission Friendship Centre.
They recently did a donut drop to the Mission Medium Security Prison to thank all of the guards for their hard work during a difficult time.
But, what is Mission’s favourite treat?
“Carrot cake slices.”