If you were asked to find someone that doesn’t like cookies, you’d probably be looking for a pretty long time.
During the pandemic, one of the only things that people can still do is order some food and enjoy some treats. Despite the restaurant industry taking a big hit during the pandemic, some places have experienced big sales due to the massive increase in delivery services like UberEATS. So we decided to talk with Mitchell Cabrera, co-owner of The Night Baker, a cookie bakery in Downtown Toronto.
Where did the idea for the business come from?
So, my wife Leanne used to study in New York. When I visited her, there was this bakery called Levain Bakery, and it was huge then and it still is. They make these gigantic cookies that everyone went crazy for. So, whenever I visited her, we always went to that bakery. So fast forward a few years later, and we’re in Toronto, and we’re thinking of something to do. At the same time, thinking is on the lines of Levain Bakery.
I have a background in chemistry; Leanne is a chemical engineer, and I finished with chemical and computer engineering. We had been backing for more than 15 years, not professionally. We gravitated towards cookies because they something people enjoy, and they’re something that reminds everyone of their childhood.
What would you say separates you from other bakeries?
Our menu is unique. If you compare our bakery to anyone else who makes baked goods or cookies in Toronto, it’s very different. We take inspiration from things we ate in our childhood, so some of it is Asian-inspired. Some are inspired by Filipino foods that maybe people in Toronto haven’t had before.
So, when we started, many people haven’t tried Ube before (Ube is the Filipino word for purple Yam), and people would ask us why this cookie is purple. So, we put in the description that it is sweet purple Yam. When you think of Yam, you don’t think of sweet, but when people try it and they like it, and it becomes their favorite thing after that it’s the best feeling in the world. I think it’s our flavours and creativity that separates us from others.
How have you fared during the pandemic?
So, during the past year and a half or so, we’re lucky because we are doing alright. I’m very thankful that we have never had to lay off anyone and I think it’s because we originally planned to be online only. So, we had everything set up for online ordering on our website. There are deliveries as well. We were also available on things like UberEATS already. So, when the pandemic happened, of course, our in-store sales were next to zero, but our deliveries and shipping exponentially increased. People just like to eat cookies.
What have you guys done to adapt to the pandemic?
We take health and safety and sanitation very seriously, and we did even before the pandemic. So constantly washing your hands and disinfecting the place, so that’s why when the pandemic happened and all the restrictions came in, the only thing that we needed to do differently was wearing masks.
That was quite a challenge at the start because the bakery gets very hot. After all, the oven is always on, but now, we’ve got used to the new normal. Other than wearing masks and restricting the number of people in the store at one time, everything is pretty much the same.
What are your goals for the future?
For us, I think we’ve experienced enough growth now, thankfully that the next part is expansion. If there’s an opportunity that pops up where we can open up a new store, we’ll for sure do it. Our dream has always been to open multiple stores in Toronto and other major cities in Canada. If that goes well in the far future, maybe even into the US.
Our goal has continually just been expanding the range of people who can access our cookie. Our pride is to have more people try our flavours, especially our Filipino ones. People have always said that Filipino food is the next big thing, and it doesn’t happen. So, I hope that more people get to try our Ube and our full Filipino menu in June and open their minds to how great Filipino food is.
Unlike other businesses in the food industry, mainly restaurants, businesses like The Night Bakery that rely on just having people walk in, buy the product and leave have not been hit as hard by the pandemic. As Mitchell said, while the in-store sales have taken a big hit, the increase in delivery and shipment orders has more than made up for it. It will be interesting to see if there will be a drop in online ordering as stores begin to reopen at a higher capacity or if they will remain at the rates they have been at during the pandemic.
For more information kindly visit: