Not wanting to say goodbye to their go-to cottage-country bakery, Grace and Dan Willows made the decision to purchase the business instead of giving it up.
Grace and Dan had been customers of Windmill Bakery for many years. Founded by a Dutch baker in 1976, the bakery, located in Muskoka — the heart of Canadian cottage-country — was popular for its made-from-scratch pastries, such as its famous apple beignet, almond cookies, and Christmas breads.
When the Windmill Bakery went for sale a few years back, Grace and Dan simply couldn’t see a good thing come to an end. Said Grace, “We were long time customers of the bakery, and couldn’t swallow the news that we might lose our favourite spot. The previous owners were looking to retire, and as deadline to sell the bakery approached, we thought, someone has to buy it and we like going here, so why not us? So here we are, two years later, running a bakery.”
Initially, the Willows took a “don’t rock the boat” strategy with the bakery, maintaining most of the business’s recipes and customers. However, over the past two years, they began building up their retail presence. “Since we’ve taken over, our main source of business is coming from our store because it’s located on a main street and we’ve grown a very strong retail clientele,” says Grace.
With the business’s growing retail presence and wholesale business, Windmill Bakery was required by provincial health regulations to post nutritional information related to its products. Searching online for a simple to use nutrition calculator, Grace discovered Menusano. The web-based calculator allows her to access an extensive database of nutritional ingredients to calculate not only the calories, but nutritional content of each of her recipes.
The information provided by Menusano has given Windmill Bakery customers new insight into the foods they are buying, but it hasn’t slowed down sales.
“We haven’t had any significant changes in the popularity of our items since posting our nutritional information. We still get orders for a variety of bread, it doesn’t matter if it’s multigrain or white,” says Grace.
Menusano has also given Grace more control to manage the nutritional content of her recipes, allowing her to offer healthier items at the bakery.
“MenuSano makes it easy to adjust recipes. Seeing all of the nutritional information on paper is really helpful, and it is inspiring us to create some new menu items. We love the menu we have now, but think it’d be nice to introduce some new items that might be beneficial at this time, both health wise and trend wise,” says Grace. “The one thing we were surprised to find out is how much sodium our recipes contain. We thought we used minimal salt but Menusano helped us learn that some our recipes contained a surprising amount, which made us change some of our recipes,” says Grace.
With the classic recipes still intact, new ones on the way, and business in cottage country booming, it’s safe to say that the Willows definitely made the right choice in buying Windmill Bakery.