When Ryan Davis came to Crawford Bay from Calgary five years ago, he soon realized what locals already knew: Ingenuity is the key to success.
“Here, you have to create your own job,” said Davis. “You have to be creative in how you make a living.”
So, at the urging of a close friend, he decided to fill a need in the community by starting Red’s Bakery and developing a menu — all with no prior baking experience. But then, he’s always been happy to learn as he goes.
“I’ve developed skills by being patient with myself,” he said.
He studied sourdough at San Francisco’s Baking Institute for a week, where he also received some general business guidance from founder Michel Suas. In 10 minutes, he told Davis exactly what to do with his space, a shop he designed and built, using old pallet wood to give the shop’s exterior a rustic texture.
“For the first season, I didn’t steer away from that strategy,” said Davis.
He definitely knew the direction he wanted to take the bakery in, though, with traditional home-style baking a priority.
“I understand food culture and I embrace it, but I always have a heart for the classics,” said Davis. “And every year, I try to learn something new to keep myself engaged.”
This year, that something new was croissants, and last year it was pastries. Davis’s cinnamon buns have always been popular with customers, although he’s still trying to find the perfect savoury, cheesy recipe. Whatever he makes, whether traditional or gluten-free, it’s all made from scratch, right down to sandwiches and sauces.
The bakery is located at 15981 Highway 3A, on the Kokanee Chalets property at the south end of Crawford Bay. The Vancouver-born Davis, who was raised “all over Canada” and mainly in Calgary, passed through the area years ago. He returned after becoming disillusioned with the city, looking forward to being part of a most close-knit community.
“I like being able to talk to people and get to know them more every day,” he said.
The bakery — which requires him to start work at 1 a.m. each day — isn’t Davis’s first entrepreneurial venture; he previously helped organize a music festival in Rocky Mountain House, Alta.
To get the bakery started, Davis had support from Community Futures Central Kootenay and the Creston and District Community Investment Co-op, but it was the emotional support of the Kootenay Lake East Shore community that surpassed his wildest expectations, encouraging him as he developed the business himself.
“That’s the cool thing about the area — it gave me a launchpad,” said Davis. “I never would have been able to pull this off in the city.
“I’m learning as I go. It’s just like a big art project to me.”