Mainly because of the chicken fingers
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This article was published 07/12/2020 (913 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Asked what food item is her store’s top seller, and Sandi Boulanger doesn’t hesitate in answering.
“It’s our chicken fingers,” she said. Boulanger added that a bride and groom ordered some for their wedding reception dinner and former Winnipeggers who come back to the city to visit have made a point of asking that the fingers be served.
Chicken fingers are one of a multitude of frozen, ready to heat and serve items that Boulanger sells at Hoffmann’s Fine Foods, located at 9-1504 St. Mary’s Rd. in St. Vital. Other products include lasagna, meatballs, ribs, veal, hamburgers, appetizers and cookies. Sandi said all are made locally from ingredients that are sourced within the province.
“They are real foods with no extra preservatives or additives.”
Hoffmann’s Fine Foods was established in 1986 by Boulanger’s father, Klaus. After emigrating from Germany to Winnipeg, he ran a catering company as well as working as head of Red River College’s culinary arts program. Boulanger said that he decided in the late 1980s to put a sign out in front of the family’s catering company’s office at 107 Plymouth St. to advertise their homemade chicken fingers. The initial response was so good that Klaus added a retail component to the catering and food-manufacturing business. His son Darryl later took over this operation.
Boulanger, who lives in St. Vital, opened the retail shop in 1996. She said some of her first customers are still buying from her and their now-adult children also shopping there.
“I’m local and very proud of making the store feel friendly,” she said. “Before (the pandemic) I used to come up and help you.” Like other business owners, Boulanger now has a clear plastic shield installed at the sales counter to keep customers and staff safe and allow for physical distancing.
Hoffmann’s now offers curbside pick-up on orders by phone or online. The store only allows two customers at a time.
Hoffmann’s inventory changes somewhat to reflect the current season and Boulanger offers specials for the holidays. This holiday season, the special includes a deboned, stuffed turkey with meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy and a dessert. She said she added meatballs to the menu as the turkeys are smaller than in previous years due to the reality of families not being allowed to gather in large groups for dinners.
She stocks perogies, cabbage rolls and meatballs for Ukrainian Christmas meals.
The pandemic is affecting Winnipeggers’ ability to shop for holiday gifts but Boulanger said she’s offering gift certificates for those who want to give a practical gift.
Over the years she has supported local charities by offering a fundraising opportunity. A non-profit group can earn $3 for each bag of chicken fingers its members sell.
“It’s a nice and easy fundraiser.”
She employs her daughter Carmen and two other part-time staff. Being designated as an essential service, Hoffmann’s has remained open through the pandemic. Boulanger said business is remaining steady and believes that many families are looking for ways to make life easier by cutting down on meal preparation. Her products allow people to put a hot meals on the table without fuss.
“It’s fast and ready comfort food,” she said.
For more information on Hoffmann’s Fine Foods, see hffsouth.ca
Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Vital community correspondent
Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.