Bliss Baked Goods operates just beside the traffic circle at 142 St. and 107 Av. in Edmonton’s McQueen neighbourhood. Customers place their orders at the front of the store. When it’s busy, they wait outside. When it’s cold, they wait in their cars. They’re patient.
“I started baking at home: bagels for my family and our sabbath bread, our challah,” says owner Lawrence Bliss. “It went on for five years. My wife got angry with me for taking up too much of her kitchen. So I opened here. This was a nice, little, affordable location. So I opened a bakery without knowing how to bake. It was like a leap into faith. That’s all it was.”
Bliss Baked Goods is the only kosher bakery in Edmonton. Its products are lactose free and nut free. Signature breads include the marble rye and the challah. Customers can try a variety of prepared foods, including vegan burritos and vegan chili. And, of course, the pastries — Lawrence dreams up the recipes and experiments until he gets it right.
“In the 9 years we’ve been here, we tried a lot of different things to see what would work for us,” Lawrence says. “Nothing’s interesting until you take an interest in it. I take an interest in everything I sell, all my ingredients. The learning curve, on certain levels, is very small, and on other levels, very high.”
Lawrence works 80 hours a week. It’s a tough schedule — starting early in the morning delivering bread to schools and lasting late into the evening to accommodate customers on their way home from work. You imagine that a person breaks down eventually.
But Lawrence has been at this for 9 years. And, when you listen to him describe the making of his magical apple caramel cinnamon Danish (the hands-down best pastry you can enjoy in Edmonton), you get a sense of the creativity and energy he has been pouring into the bakery from day one.
“You start by having a good sleep and waking up at 3 in the morning and having a vision… Ok? I won’t tell you the recipe, but it’s basically a Danish dough. But it’s not just a Danish dough — it’s our signature Danish dough. We have a special glaze that we put on it. Then we put cinnamon and sugar over top of the glaze. Then we roll apple into it. Then we cut it up and bake it. And then we cover it in caramel and they’re done.”
After 9 years of figuring out his product and his market, Lawrence Bliss has ambitions for Bliss Baked Goods. He’s looking for a larger space, a team, and investors to fuel the bakery’s transformation.
“From day one, you walk into this place, and it’s going to be… awe! And it stays that way forever. We’ll find the right space, the money to go and do it, hire the people that are going to make it work. Eventually it’ll go to my children, the ones who show an aptitude for it. And it stays an institution that goes on.”
Lawrence sees a role for Origami Accounting in getting him where he wants to go. When asked about what he was doing for accounting and bookkeeping before becoming an Origami client, he says “It wasn’t getting done. And when it was, it wasn’t getting done properly.”
“In our first year, we hired someone who cost us too much money, and we had to change that,” he continues. “But we realized how difficult it was to look after the accounting and bookkeeping properly. Good business starts with accounting. When we heard about Origami, when the boys came down and explained the service, it didn’t take much for me to say yes. Now, for what we pay a month, we’re taken care of. We know that it’s in good hands, it’s accurate, and we can show investors exactly how this whole thing works and how it’s going to make money.”