A love for baking, a commitment to quality, and a family legacy — these ingredients have won Grandin Bakery the heart of St. Albert.
This time-honoured local institution has recently been recognized by the Gazette's readers as the city's Best Bakery.
The Hooimeyer family bought the maker in 1976 and it was located in the old Grandin Mall.
"At the time, it operated next to a Safeway without a bakery, so bread was the main focus. We produced more than 1,000 loaves of bread daily," said Michelle Hooimeyer, a member of the family that has owned and operated the establishment for nearly half a century.
In 1992 the bakery moved to its current location at the Inglewood Towne Centre where the focus has shifted to cakes, donuts and other treats.
As the bakery’s reputation grew, so too did the demand for its sweets.
“Donut production has been especially challenging to keep up with in recent years. Word has gotten out about our old-fashioned, never-frozen donuts. There are always customers waiting outside the doors at 8:00 am, eager to get first choice. Our bakers work through the night and head home to sleep during the day, so we often run out of donuts mid-day.”
Like all Canadians, St. Albertans have seen their grocery bills shoot up in recent years. Hooimeyer points out that part of the appeal of Grandin is its low prices.
“With grocery prices on the rise, customers have really appreciated our reasonable prices. You can still get 3 loaves of white, brown, or whole wheat bread for $5.95.”
In the heart of this successful business are family traditions that have stood the test of time, including a gingerbread recipe they have been using for decades.
"Every Christmas our kids look forward to decorating gingerbread houses. We sell plenty of gingerbread house kits each year, as more and more families are looking for gingerbread that actually tastes good!" Hooimeyer said.
Their embrace of family traditions also expands to handmade sugar cookie and royal icing kits, which are available year-round.
The bakery also got a leg up in the local market when they started to stop using peanuts and tree nuts in the bakery, a move that appeals to families with allergies.
At Grandin Bakery, the family-centric approach isn't limited to its products. It permeates through the business operations, shaping the culture of the bakery. Brothers Bruce and Marcel, the co-owners, spend hours each night rolling, shaping, and baking dough.
"The two know each other so well and can anticipate what the other will do next. Plus, there is nothing like working with someone who shares your sense of humour and taste in music!" Hooimeyer said.
The recognition from The St. Albert Gazette's Readers' Choice Award holds a special place in the hearts of the Grandin Bakery family.
"Of all the awards, these ones mean the most. They let us know that our customers are happy with what we bake, and that's really the most important thing. This year especially, with so much competition, we appreciate knowing we are a St. Albert favourite."
Looking towards the future, they plan to continue their legacy of quality baking.
"Our future holds more of the same. We enjoy adding new products, but our classic recipes aren't going anywhere. We have so many customers that remember coming into Grandin Bakery as children, and they love the nostalgic experience," Hooimeyer said.
“There is nothing like biting into a doughnut that brings you back to your childhood.”