A Winnipeg baker has turned the sweet success of her pop-up micro-bakery into a brick-and-mortar storefront in Osborne Village – one of many new developments helping to lift the neighbourhood out of a pandemic slump.
Chloe Wiebe, the baker behind Crumb Queen, opened up her new shop on Osborne last month, with lineups out the door as soon as it swung open for the first time.
The hoards of hungry customers were no accident.
Wiebe and her uber Instagrammable treats have inspired a famished following, and it all started with a simple cruller.
What started as a pandemic side hustle for mostly self-taught baker Cloe Wiebe became a full-time gig churning out crullers, breads and more. (Image Source: Cloe Wiebe)
The Winnipegger found herself experimenting with the coffee shop staple during another bleak pandemic lockdown in 2020.
She posted a photo of her own take on the confection to Instagram.
Countless shares and DMs later, Wiebe began baking batches for friends and then strangers. Within weeks, she had quit her day job as a baker at a local doughnut shop to pursue her new, pop-up bakery full-time.
Wiebe took weekly orders online, which sold out within minutes of going live.
She outgrew her bachelor apartment kitchen, and began renting commercial kitchen spaces to keep up with demand for her menu, which had expanded to breads, cookies and more.
Cloe Wiebe, the mostly self-taught baker behind Crumb Queen, poses with her cat Walter and her buzzy baked goods. (Image Source: Sierra Pries)
Over the summer, she scoured rental websites in search of a commercial space Crumb Queen could call home.
“I was starting to lose hope, but then we found this listing for this space, and it was kind of a weird one,” she said.
“The landlord of the whole building is planning on renovating in 2025, so there was a short lease opportunity, and it specifically said ‘great opportunity for a pop-up business to grow.’”
Wiebe and her partner Andy Koropatnick, a fellow chef who infused the Crumb Queen menu with savoury pastries and hearty sandwiches, signed the lease at the end of July sight unseen. The pair had spent the summer cooking for tree planters in the British Columbia wilderness, and couldn’t come to view their new shop in person.
“We came in on August 1, and we kind of walked around the whole space and immediately got so overwhelmed that we had to leave and go eat a bunch of McDonald’s,” Wiebe recalled.
After the fries and burgers had been eaten, they got to work. The shop was opened a few weeks later, and Wiebe and Koropatnick have been struggling to keep up with the doughnut demand ever since.
“Osborne Village is great. We both feel so lucky that we are able to be here because there is so much foot traffic and there are a lot of great businesses around here.”
A number of Crumb Queen confections are pictured at the bakery’s new location on Osborne Street. (Source: Chloe Wiebe)
NEIGHBOURHOOD IMPROVEMENTS FUELLING OSBORNE REVITALIZATION: COUNCILLOR
Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry), whose ward includes the Village, says the neighbourhood suffered setbacks during the pandemic. With less foot traffic in the once-bustling community, many businesses were forced to pivot or close.
As restrictions ended and the world opened back up, the neighbourhood began a pivot of its own.
The Osborne Village BIZ created a blueprint action plan to improve the health and vibrancy of the neighbourhood. It was released earlier this year. Rollins’ office contributed $30,000 to the venture.
A number of street-level actions have already been taken, including a continued collaboration with the Sabe Peace Walkers to bolster safety in the neighbourhood.
Rollins says the business community is also benefitting from the upswing.
“There’s definitely a renewal.”
Some of the ideas pitched in the action plan, like adding a scramble intersection and slip lane closures, are ways to keep the neighbourhood more accessible and its business community growing, she says.
New housing opportunities, like the 207-unit apartment complex rising at the site of the former Osborne Village Motor Inn, will also infuse more density and potential new customers for the neighbourhood’s many businesses.
“We’re widening sidewalks. We’re getting more folks in, and that’s good for business. That’s why you’re seeing those for lease signs coming down and businesses going in.”
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