Opening a dessert shop in downtown Red Deer during a time of pandemic deprivation made perfect sense to the owners of Cakes and Doe.
Since Red Deerians have no movies, concerts or live hockey games to watch, “we decided to take a risk and offer people something sweet in their lives,” said Taneen Ryan, who co-owns the bakery with Mandi Schnerch.
Cakes and Doe at 4812 50 Ave. (Little Gaetz), which opened last week, is among several new businesses that are locating in Red Deer’s downtown during this time of COVID.
Another is the JusFruit x Oishidesu smoothie and Ramen noodle house (which already has several Calgary locations) and slated to open in March on Red Deer’s Ross Street Patio.
The Pizza Co., owned by Indian Kitchen owner Sanjay Uniyal, is anticipating starting to offer burgers, pizza and pasta in the former Hudson’s space at Ross and Gaetz.
Ryan said she and Schnerch pushed their fears aside and decided “treats can still happen” during this isolating time.
In fact, selling cupcakes, cookie dough, candy apples and custom cakes during a pandemic makes sense, she added — considering that food can be a comfort, and bringing treats home can make someone’s day.
Ryan said she has long been a baker, and even ran a side cake-making business while working as a legal assistant and later as assistant general-manager at Original Joe’s.
Since Ryan and Schnerch’s children are now in school and their husbands are facing challenges working in the oil industry, the two best friends of 20 years decided to pair up to become entrepreneurs.
Ryan said she’s long been a fan of Red Deer’s historic downtown, and often admired the “beautiful” exposed brick interior of the former Comforts the Sole business.
When that space came up for lease after Comforts the Sole owner Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer decided to retire, the women could think of no better location.
So far, business has been steady, said Ryan — even though many office workers are still working from home. “I think people are coming because they need to do something… now they can come and get a treat for their family…”
Amanda Gould, executive-director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association, said the new business openings provide welcome good news during a difficult time, and are an encouraging sign for the city’s centre.