For one small enterprise, the past two years have proved that something can indeed come from nothing.
Theatre school graduate Markus Spodzieja entered the pandemic with a three-year-old bike-based bread delivery business. On Aug. 13 he opened a permanent location as Vancouver Island’s first kosher-certified bakery – and he has plans to expand the operation.
When The Bikery opened in the Victoria Public Market, Spodezeija said, he was “blown away” to learn it would be the Island’s first completely kosher bakery.
Victoria’s Jewish community – estimated at roughly 5,000 – has for years relied on frozen orders from Vancouver, occasional kosher batches from otherwise non-kosher establishments, or their own kitchens to provide bread such as the challah used in weekly Shabbat observances, Spodzieja said.
His business partner, Vancouver-based entrepreneur and member of the Jewish community Kimanda Jarzebiak, approached Spodzieja with the proposition of founding the kosher bakery at the beginning of the pandemic in 2019. After making an introduction to Rabbi Meir Kaplan at the Chabad of Vancouver Island, the pair undertook funding efforts, consultations with Victoria’s Jewish community and searching for a permanent space.
That’s when Spodzeija learned Victoria Public Market and the Hudson District have been wanting a bakery for years, he said.
|The Bikery bakery, located on the western side of the Victoria Public Market. (Kiernan Green / News Staff)|
Since its opening, products at the Bikery – from classic bread to pretzels, bagels and pastries – have been made with “the highest observance of kosher law.” The bread is prepared separate from non-kosher meat and dairy and is essentially vegan, other than the inclusion of eggs, which is included in the “very eggy” challah bread, Spodzeija said.
Many of the bakery’s recipes and techniques have been passed down through the Spodzeija family’s German-Polish tradition. Markus’s father operated a bakery – Cipollini’s – in Campbell River’s Willow Point while he and his sister were in high school, cementing their reverence for the practice. Many of the recipes and braiding techniques applied at the Bikery come from the elder Spodzeija’s accumulated “bread bible.”
As for his own business: “So many people have watched the growth of this bakery, seeing it go from my bike, to kitchen to kitchen,” he said. “Half of all my customers have known me since 2017; they tracked me down on my bike back in the day.”
The Bikery began four years ago when Spodzeija utilized the City of Victoria’s Mobile Bike Vending permit to lug a 250-pound cart with his baked goods to different spots across the city.
As the months go on, he hopes to expand his operations beyond two employees to include a kosher deli adjacent to the bakery at Victoria Public Market.
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