I’m immediately struck by the wealth of knowledge and passion Alexandra Chan, owner of Itza Bakeshop , has to offer. We settle into the bench seating in front of her Bakeshop inside the Devenish and in no time Alex is rattling off info about the 100 year old building she chose to build her business within.
I learn that the actual structure is brick in the hallways, and the building was originally constructed for affordable housing. The space efficiency was way ahead of its time with such features as Murphy beds. So interesting! “There are rumours of a ghosts. There’s lots of stories.” Spooky! Right about this time the hallway fills with the smell of freshly baked goods…smells AMAZING. “It’s about the community” Alex continues “I feel so lucky to interact with our clientele. Such a variety of occupations and educations… I learn something new every day.”
Alex tells me more about her enthusiasm for helping other businesses succeed, all the help from talented people she’s had along the way, and the network of passionate professionals in this high density 17th Ave environment that is so encouraging.
“As the local baker, I get to be part of some of the best moments in people’s lives. Weddings, baby showers, celebrations… You can’t beat it.”
What is the most popular item on the menu?
The Almond Croissant – “It’s so funny, people travel and look for it all over the world and have a very strong sense of what it should be. We cut and soak the croissant in simple syrup and it’s twice baked. Some like it crispy and some like it squishy so it’s fortunate that each tray comes out of the oven with a variety.” There’s that heavenly smell again…so distracting. Focus.
Discussing her big dreams for Calgary, “I want to contribute to Calgary’s growing reputation as a destination place. Somewhere you can invite family and friends to come to and say, “Hey, I know this amazing little bakeshop I have to take you to….” Well, I’m sold. Visions of happy community-oriented Calgarians breaking fresh baked challa to celebrate their mutual successes dance through my head. Fragrantly.
On Saturday April 20th, 2013 ITZA Bakeshop will celebrate the launch of 17th Avenue’s new brand by offering a mini croissant and coffee for $2 to anyone who stops by (while supplies last). Find it on 17th Ave – #111,908-17th Ave SW, inside the Historical Devenish Building.