Sleepy Owl Bread awakens
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/11/2022 (191 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Like a healthy sourdough starter, Sleepy Owl Bread keeps giving.
The beloved West End bakery reopened on Nov. 22 at 7 a.m. at its original 751 Wall St. home following its closure in May.
Sleepy Owl Bread is now operated by Diversity Food Services — a social enterprise with which the bakery has a long history. Sleepy Owl Bread’s founders Joanne Toupin and Beau Burton worked at Diversity Food Services long before opening the bakery in 2013.
Things came full circle years later when Diversity Food Services began to source some of its goods, including the famed chocolate croissants, from Sleepy Owl Bread.
Though the ownership has changed, most of the flavours customers have grown to love are back. The cast of staple breads includes a rustic levain, a miche, baguettes, French bread and dinner rolls. The daily bread specials are hemp multigrain (Tuesday), olive herb (Wednesday), potato onion (Thursday), raisin (Friday), and dijon cheddar (Saturday).
The Danishes, croissants and cinnamon twists have also made the team.
Toupin and Burton offered up their signature recipes. Burton trained the new bakery manager, Michel Saltel, in his starter and lamination techniques. It’s important to create the products customers are accustomed to, while being authentic to Diversity Food Services’ focus on organic, local ingredients, Saltel said.
“We are going to be different because we are different people,” Saltel said.
Saltel is also a sous-chef for Diversity Food Services. Saltel, like many, got into baking at the beginning of the pandemic as a hobby. Baking, he thought, was one skill he hadn’t tapped into. He was hooked.
“Eventually, I went out and bought a big 22-kilogram bag of flour and made loaf, after loaf, after loaf until I was getting the perfect loaf,” said Saltel, who’s been with Diversity Food Services for almost a decade. “They treat me well. They treat their staff well.”
Soon after, Diversity Food Services began to sell the loaves through its various branches, including Buffalo Stone Café at FortWhyte Alive and where it all began, at the University of Winnipeg’s eateries.
Kirsten Godbout is the executive manager of operations for Diversity Food Services. She also co-founded the social enterprise, which launched at the university in 2009. Godbout said Sleepy Owl Bread’s re-opening has been nerve-wracking, but moreso, exciting.
The new staff at Sleepy Owl Bread have been baking around the clock for a month to prepare for the first day back. Godbout said honouring the Sleepy Owl Bread name has been top-of-mind. The trial pastries, of which there are roughly 120 to 150 each day, have been sent to Diversity Food Services’ outlets. Each day they sell out, Saltel said.
“We understand that when all the people come back, they have an expectation,” Godbout said. “We bought the name and the recipe and the products of an established bakery that already has a legacy in the neighbourhood.”
Sleepy Owl Bread’s reopening comes as Kub Bread, a West End institution for 99 years, winds down its operations.
Sleepy Owl Bread is now open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more, go to www.sleepyowlbread.ca
Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.