Indigenous entrepreneur and baker Jenna White celebrates grand re-opening and business expansion
Posted on June 29, 2021 | By Simon R. Smith | 0 Comments
A new nut-free restaurant and bakery had its grand opening in Fredericton last week after expanding from its original farmers market location.
Jenna’s Nut-Free Dessertery welcomed Fredericton mayor, Kate Rogers and members of St. Mary’s First Nation to its ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, June 24. The new location had its soft opening on June 1, the business’ two-year anniversary.
When owner Jenna White developed a severe nut allergy in her 30s, she said it opened her eyes to a new challenge that she’d never considered before.
“When you don’t have nut allergies and you don’t know people who have nut allergies, you have zero idea how difficult it actually is to find nut-free items,” she said. “It became very obvious very quickly that it’s not easy and there’s not a whole lot out there to accommodate people with nut allergies … so, I figured, why not?”
White has been a vendor at Boyce Farmers Market since 2019, selling her nut-free cakes, doughnuts, muffins and other baked goods. The business was starting to find its footing in January and February of last year, White said, but then the pandemic hit.
“It was kind of crushing when we got shut down through no fault of our own, like everyone else,” White said. “We had a four-to-five-month period with absolutely zero sales or ability to do sales.”
Trying to figure out the “next best approach” and maintain her business’ momentum, White took to sharing recipes online. The recipes were such a hit, she said, that she soon started making baking mixes for people who want to bake without having to worry about measuring and mixing ingredients.
“In order to do the baking mixes, we needed a physical space,” she said. “So, we figured, if we were going to have a space for that, we may as well have a bakery side. We just kind of ran with it.”
That brought Jenna’s to its new location in Fredericton’s Lincoln Heights, specifically 170 Urquhart Crescent. “We ended up in the industrial park which is a strange place for a bakery to open up—I will fully admit that,” White said. “It [has] also allowed us to have room for a flour mill and to have a breakfast and lunch menu as well. So, it’s turned into a lot more than was anticipated in the beginning.”
Customers have been giving “really positive feedback on pretty much every menu item,” White says, but the most popular so far is her signature breakfast sandwich made with bannock bread.
White says Jenna’s will begin distribution of its baking mixes throughout the Maritime provinces next month and will be shipping fresh flour by this fall. •
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