In a town of about 8,000 people lies a bakery with a lot of history. For the past 100 years, the Kimberley City Bakery has attracted people from all over the country–and beyond.
“We’re known, not just here in the Kootenays, but right through B.C., Alberta, right through to Europe,” owner Eric Forbes said.
Calgarians are a large part of their clientele, according to Forbes, with many travelling nearly four hours to pick up goodies.
Forbes apprenticed at the bakery in the 1990s, learning European-style baking from his beloved mentor.
He says he fell in love with the town of Kimberley, B.C., and in 2013, bought the bakery with his family and moved into the five-bedroom apartment above the shop.
One regular customer has been impressed by quality for many years.
“The best apple fritters I’ve ever had in my 49-years of life,” said Kimberley resident Mike Betker. “Small bakeries like this, you don’t find very often anymore.”
Kacee Kennedy, who works across the street, says it’s not just the food that makes the bakery special.
“The atmosphere… going in and feeling like you’re treated like family,” she said.
Waking up at one in the morning and running the store for hundreds of customers hasn’t been an easy task, but Forbes says it’s the dedication to their craft that has made them such a success.
“We have really anchored ourselves as a bakery that bakes from scratch.” he said.
That from-scratch baking includes making their own yeast, doughs, and much more. They sell everything from croissants, to sourdough, to lunch specials and pretzels.
The bakery is also still equipped with old mixers and a rotary oven from the 1930s.
The Kimberley City Bakery has expanded since it first opened 100 years ago, from a small storefront to a two-story, 3,200 square-foot fully-equipped operation.
It has stayed open through The Great Depression, multiple recessions, and even survived a fire in a neighboring building.
But due to COVID-19, for the first time in 100 years, the bakery has had to close its doors. Being two metres apart is impossible for staff and clients, according to Forbes.
Even before the COVID-19 health restrictions came into place, the family had been trying to sell the store. They moved to Calgary to be closer to the Children’s Hospital to attend to health issues within the family
“I hate to say it but I’ve kind of enjoyed this month off,” Forbes admitted. “I’ve been able to be with my family.”
Their hope is to find a buyer who will continue the legacy of the bakery for “another hundred years”.
Despite the pandemic, Forbes is confident a buyer will bite, because he believes it’s an opportune time to do any renovations without losing sales.
But if they don’t– the store will stay in operation.
“I’m staying here until it sells,” he said. “I don’t want to close the doors, it’s not fair to my family, the current staff, previous staff who have put blood, sweat and tears into this place, and to the residents of Kimberley.”
While in Calgary, the family has started a new venture in the food truck world — KCB Streetfood. They hope to bring some of their traditional baking and new recipes to the big city starting this summer.