Reston is home to a specialty bakeshop, Patti Cakes Gourmet Foods and this year, owner Patti Marcq is celebrating 30 years in business. “I’m so lucky to have been able to do what I love all these years,” she says.
Despite COVID-19 and the shutdown craft show venues where Marcq regularly sold her artisan Christmas baking, Patti Cakes is booming in 2020 with baking selling from Saskatoon to Winnipeg and even into the USA.
Marcq’s enthusiasm for business started very early. “I’m a real entrepreneur. It was in my blood from the time I was a little child. With my best friend, Geneane (Feland of Redneck Caviar), we were selling out of a little building and any little piece of anything, we would put in there and we would get our family to come in and buy from us.” She laughs recalling her Pierson, Man. friend and selling “nick knacks.”
A belief that she could make and market a superior product launched Marcq’s baking enterprise that began in Oak Lake in 1990. “I was always a dreamer,” she says. “I always loved to bake.”
Soon after, she moved to Bellview, (near Pipestone) where one of her long-time staff members, Kim Bonner first worked with her.
“I worked for Patti when she was in her basement. I was thinking today about how much things have changed,” says Bonner. “We used to do puddings in coffee cans and tomato juice cans in the water bath canner, carrying everything up and down from the basement. Upstairs to the ovens.”
While at Bellview, Marcq made an important business decision. In 1996, she moved her enterprise to the Food Development Centre (Portage La Prairie).
Marcq used a $7,000 grant from the National Research Council to have her recipes professionally expanded from a modest 10-pound size to over 10 times larger. She also rented kitchen space from the Food Development Centre for nine years before moving to the Reston building in 2005, where Patti Cakes is now located. In 2012, Marcq purchased the Reston building, the home of Patti Cakes Gourmet Foods.
Nurturing this thriving business took determination and the right help as Marcq raised her children. “It was very difficult. I was pregnant with both girls doing this job. I worked really long days.” Marcq’s mother-in-law, friends and neighbours helped with the kids during her busy baking season.
As daughters Kayla and Taylor grew up, they helped out with Patti Cakes. “They’ve done so many shows for me,” says Marcq, adding Kayla’s now a social worker and Taylor has a psychology degree and is in the Psyche Nursing program in Brandon.
Customer appreciation means a lot to this business woman: “When you hear customers telling you, Patti, you can never quit,” she knows she has a following and that has been important to keep her going, year after year.
In her Reston facility, Marcq and her staff started baking six weeks later than usual, during the first week of October.
Working long days from 7 a.m. when ingredients are weighed out, to 9 p.m. when the last round of cakes come out of the oven, the business is producing some 500 cakes per day. Some are iced, topped with almond paste icing or lemon icing made from the juice and zest of the actual fruit.
While working toward perfection, she doesn’t let it slow her down. “If I have an idea, I run with it.” And she has done just that as last year she started a line of cakes injected with a shot of alcohol. The flavour combination has become quite a hit.
Craft shows from Saskatoon, Regina and all the way to Winnipeg were Patti Cakes’ main sales venues. But with no craft shows this year, Marcq has had to re-invent marketing. She does what she calls pop-up deliveries as far away as Winnipeg. “These orders have taken off like wild fire!” Customers pre-pay, and the product is delivered to their vehicles.
Now, by boosting her online presence, she says, she’s shipping far and wide. New Mexico last week, the Yukon, New Brunswick and all across Canada. “It’s incredible,” says Marcq, of Patti Cakes popularity.
Locally, you can find some stores in Virden, Melita and even Sinclair that are carrying Patti Cakes light and dark gourmet Christmas cakes, puddings and butter crème, toffy sauce, and a caramel rum sauce.