Despite the rain Saturday morning, crowds of curious and hungry people headed to an open house for the new Alitura bakery.
It was one of the first outdoor events in Niagara-on-the-Lake this spring and owner Fabian Reis was outside helping to run the stone oven.
He was a bit worried about the rain, but by the afternoon things had cleared up and people were outside enjoying themselves, eating sliders and roasting homemade marshmallows.
Some earlybirds arrived at about 11 a.m., having a glass of wine with some freshly baked flammkuchen (a German-style pizza) with bacon, onions and sour cream.
It tasted sort of like an open-faced perogy.
“This is tremendous. I mean, Fabian, I met him back in the summer and I had no idea that he envisioned such an amazing kind of marriage of food and wine,” said Jonathan Halliwell of St. Catharines.
“He’s taken things to the next level, so we’re just happy to be here and check it out. And the wine the food is wunderbar,”
He said it was too bad about the weather, but “we’re Canadians. It’s spring. What can you do? All the more reason to come and drink wine at 10:30 in the morning.”
Ray Syegco, a partner with Alitura and chef at Incoho restaurant in St. Catharines, was busy preparing sliders for lunch — a pastrami brisket and porchetta.
He said the goal is to “showcase what the future is going to be” as Alitura – formerly Harvest Barn – prepares to open its stone oven outside for the summer.
Inside the shop, kids were busy decorating cookies, many of them using the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag.
NOTL mother Andrea Poapst was with the first kids to be decorating cookies.
Stephanie Reis, co-owner with her husband Fabian, was inside helping people get coffee and cinnamon buns and tickets.
She said the store had been busy since before 9 a.m., with people coming in to check out the bakery’s offerings and warm up with a hot drink. Items like sourdough bread were “flying off the shelves,” she said.
Ted Stones, general manager of Alitura, echoed her thoughts.
“It’s going really well. Lots of people coming through the store, which is nice. We want to create a little bit of a buzz with Alitura, and kind of get the name out there and reintroduce and get people excited again,” he said.
All of the sales from the outdoor portion of the event went to the YWCA Niagara, to help young women and children suffering from abuse and addiction, while 10 per cent of the store’s sales and 100 per cent of Ukraine cookie sales went to the Red Cross’s Ukrainian Relief Fund.
Franziska Emslie, manager of donor stewardship for YWCA, was there with her husband and two kids, roasting marshmallows by the fire.
She said Incoho owners Syegco and Selah Schmoll have been big supporters of the YWCA through their restaurant and that the organization is grateful for the support.
“We are very excited for them and for this new partnership, for this new store and for all the exciting things they’re doing here. For us at the YWCA it’s always so important to have the support of the local business community, because it takes all of us to help the folks that we serve,” she said.
The money helps the YWCA help women in need, she said.
“We serve homeless women and kids and families. So, for us that helps us to keep the doors open and to shelter people who are struggling here in our community.”