Pandemic changes lead to creation of Bannock Express storefront
- Michelle Lerat | July 05, 2020
A new place to buy your favorite Indigenous comfort food has opened up in Saskatoon.
Bannock Express opened a commercial location for curbside pick-up, take-out, delivery and catering at 312 Avenue B South Saskatoon. They are open six days a week 11am-7pm.
Rachel Smith opened the new location on National Indigenous Peoples Day and so far, has served over 300 people.
The menu includes all things bannock; bannock burgers, bannock tacos, bannock pops, bannock pizza, saskatoon berry bites which is bannock and berries, and bannock trays with jam. There are also a few non-bannock items like the berry BBQ pulled pork and salads.
Smith likes to include local ingredients into her menu like saskatoon berries and maple syrup.
Smith is from Zagime Anishinabek formerly called Sakimay First Nations. She says she has always been passionate about bannock. She remembers sitting at her aunt’s table with soup and bannock, speaking with one another and feeling that comfort that enjoying bannock with family brings.
Her aunt was the one who taught her to make bannock and she’s always been a good bannock maker. Smith’s business idea began while hosting a yard sale and nobody bought any items except for her bannock. She knew people’s love of her Bannock could be turned into a business.
Smith began with making bannock out of her kitchen to cater events and as the demands grew, she started renting out kitchens.
“It started with getting a couple of catering jobs a month, to being booked every week,” said Smith.
Before the pandemic her business was mainly catering. She would also hold pop-up sales at farmers markets where she’d rent a booth. There would always be a line up. Once the pandemic hit, the catering jobs started disappearing.
“We lost 90 percent of our orders for three months,” said Smith. “I had a week of cancelations every day, people canceling month-long contracts just like that.”
Not knowing how long the pandemic could last, Smith knew she had to change her business model. She decided to open up a commercial location. It worked out for the best because people can come in and get fresh bannock when they want to.
Smith says she and employees are following safety protocols with face coverings for the workers and hand sanitizer for customers.
Plans to open a Regina Bannock Express location have been put on hold until she see how the Saskatoon location does in the next few months and go from there.