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May. 21, 2022 | Saturday
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Nolaa's ketogenic bakery opens in NOTL
General manager Hydee Lloyd and owner Melissa Woodworth outside Nolaa’s during their grand opening on March 4. (Richard Harley)

Melissa Woodworth wasn't going to let a pandemic slow down the opening of her ketogenic bakery.

The entrepreneur and mother of four, who official opened her new business Nolaa's on the Lake in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake last Thursday, has ploughed through the norms and managed to create a successful small business during a time of uncertainty.

It's the second bakery location she has opened in eight months, all through a global pandemic, enduring lockdowns and deciphering what that means in multiple regions.

"(We've) kept open, stayed open, kind of tried to share our story and our reasons why with everyone, as much as we can," she said.

"I think the only struggle that we've had is is getting our name and our word out there that we're open and that we're here for everyone. I think there was so much confusion with so many different regions of what was open and what was not open."

Starting in a pandemic, she went into business prepared to handle a different marketplace and was fortunate not to have to close down her Grimsby store, Nolaa Granolaa.

"We always kept online open, like online ordering, and our store never closed down, so I don't think we really suffered."

She said her story started when her son Sam, now 19, was three and began having frequent seizures.

"Back then, alternative medicines weren't a thing," she said. "So he was on different pills and potions and what have you,"

"After a series of tests and biopsies and MRIs and all this, there was really nothing else that the doctors thought that they could do for him," she said.

Afterward a neurologist at McMaster hospital Hamilton suggested trying a ketogenic diet, which is low in carbohydrates and sugars. It was something that was largely unheard of at the time. "And this was 15 years ago, mind you, so we started Sam on the ketogenic diet and he did become seizure-free."

Over the course of her son's life, she's wanted to find a way to help people in similar situations.

"I mean the ketogenic diet can help so many people for so many different reasons it's not just for what Sam was cured from."

She says NOTLers have been very supportive since she opened location at 106 Queen St.

"All week the locals have been walking by and knocking on the door and being like, 'How are you' and introducing themselves," she said.

"I think the community support has been absolutely awesome. And I think coming from a small town and starting off small really helped us in kind of creating a good foundation for what's coming up next."

She said she plans to move to Niagara-on-the-Lake in April to be closer to the store.

NOTL resident Linda Hosty was in the shop on opening day and said she's happy to have a dedicated keto store in town.

"I'm one of those that have been peeking through the windows and hoping that they're opening soon," she said.

Having the option for people who are celiac or need to eat keto for various reasons is a welcome addition, she added.

Her neice has two children who need to be on a keto diet for epilepsy and that keto "is not just a fad."

"This is a need that they're satisfying, as well as, you know, the treats that we don't need but we want."