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Aug. 17, 2019 | Saturday
Local News
Fruit Shack won't see spring blossoms
Fruit Shack Farm & Market Bakery. (Richard Harley/Niagara Now)

Fruit Shack Farm & Market Bakery will close its doors Sunday, Feb. 24.

In a mass email sent out to customers on Jan. 29, Steve Pohorly on behalf of the Fruit Shack, announced the closure of the market. Thanking everyone for their loyalty, the email said, "from a family perspective it makes sense."

“We’ve kind of been at this for 16 years, and it’s been on the back of our minds for the past little while, thinking at some point we’ve got to figure out what to do here,” said Steve Pohorly of the Pohorly family, owners of the Fruit Shack Farm Market & Bakery.

He said retail is a lot of work and they have provided a level of service and attention to detail that’s not as common anymore – “it’s a lot of work and a lot of effort, and it's always on your mind.”

The Pohorlys operate approximately 50 acres of farmland, where they grow and supply wine grapes to Jackson Triggs and Arterra Wines Canada, which owns Jackson Triggs. This alongside the table grapes, fruits and vegetables grown for the market, Pohorly said it simply became too much.

His parents, Frank and Susan, are approaching their mid 70s and are still very involved in the farm and in the market. He said it would be nice if they could slow down a little bit, or at least not have to be there every day throughout the summer.

“So, we do a lot of things and we wanted to take something off our plate.”

Pohorly is heavily involved on the grape side of the farm as well and has been serving as a director of Grape Growers of Ontario for the past nine years, which takes up a lot of his time.

“Just being a small family business with a few great employees, it’s definitely a lot of hands on for myself and my parents,” added Pohorly.

“Selling a substandard product wasn’t really an option for us, so closing this down became the logical choice as far as how we ease things up a little bit.”

Pohorly said he believes the Fruit Shack is a prime location for a lot of opportunity, hoping the establishment stays agricultural. He admits the family hasn't determined what to do with it next.

“I’d like to see it stay in the 'agricultural thing' and stuff like that as far as the fruit and vegetables and bakery go – but I mean, yes, I’m open to ideas and possibilities.”

He said he hasn’t thought a whole lot about that. “There’s people who have contacted me expressing interest in something at our location, so you know, we’re going to take our time and talk to people and see what people might be interested in for the market here,” he said.

One thing’s for certain, Pohorly said their famous, Canada's Best butter tarts will remain "closely guarded," "on hold," and "in the vault."

“The butter tarts were one of those things that, when we set out to start baking them, every little while we just kept tweaking the recipe and making them better and worked on the process. (We) worked on all that stuff that allowed us to create these masterpieces,” he said.

"The nice thing with the butter tarts is that who knows, one day 10 years down the road, we make a bakery in the middle of nowhere and I’m sure I could stir up some name recognition real quick.”

Looking back, Pohorly said he is grateful for the loyalty of their customers over the years.

“We’ve made a lot of friends through here. Every time I go to town and you see people you know that we’ve met at the fruit market ... We have a huge debt of gratitude just because customers here and the people here that have shopped at the fruit market, they’re just fantastic people, hands down," he said.

“Hands down the people of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the customers we have from here all the way to Toronto and beyond are just wonderful people.”