by Stefan Archuticz
Your friendly neighbourhood journalist covering local news, business reviews and opinions!
Criveller Cakes is a boutique bakery specializing in pastries and cakes for weddings, anniversaries and all special occasions. They prepare fresh pastries on-site daily and make chocolate from scratch.
The business was originally started in 1979. It was purchased by the current owners Leo and Giovanni in 1997. Leo and Giovanni decided to purchase Criveller because they already operated a successful chain of pizza restaurants in the region, but they just didn't want to work at night anymore. They had put their time in working long nights at the pizza business and wanted a change so they could spend more time with their family. The purchase made sense because Criveller was already an established business at the time, with existing customers and staff. They hoped they could make a profit similar to the pizza business, but work during the morning and day time instead of at night.
The most difficult thing they went through when first starting to operate Criveller was their lack of baking experience. They also hated the name because it's easily butchered by customers. They could learn the operations but decided not to change the name because the brand was already established in the region. Learning to bake and produce the various products they sold was the number one challenge. Although they had staff, it was still important for them to learn all the ins and outs of the operation, in case of staff getting sick or leaving for a better opportunity. Learning the operation took time in the beginning.
If Leo and Giovanni had to start over today, they wouldn't change anything. They had to put in the blood, sweat, and tears in the beginning to learn the operation. Nothing can change that. After learning the ins and outs of the operation, Leo and Giovanni found key employees that they nurtured and treated with respect over the years. Now they can lean on those employees and take more of a sales and management role with their business. They have also invested in modern machinery to automate certain tedious tasks and reduce their costs.
The number one way Criveller brings in new customers is word of mouth. In 2020, the brand has power in the Niagara region. People know to call on Criveller when they are looking for wedding cakes and fresh pastries. Social media has also helped spread the word of mouth for Criveller. They put branded stickers on their cakes and pastries so when guests take pictures at events, the Criveller name is posted to social media along with their product. Social media fits nicely with Criveller due to the nature of the business. The events that Criveller prepares pastries and cakes for are positive events that people naturally want to share with their friends on social media. Criveller can piggyback off that natural will for their customers to produce social media content because they strategically place their branding on their products.
Leo and his staff also regularly post on social media. Interaction with customers is important for Criveller's overall brand image. Also, their customers genuinely do love the quality of their cakes and pastries so they are very willing to recommend and post about Criveller on social media.
Looking one year into the future, Leo anticipates stability in business. Despite the volatility in the world right now related to the coronavirus and the economy, Criveller stays insulated because they make comfort food. People will still be getting married, baptized, graduating, etc. There will always be a demand for Criveller's boutique comfort food so the focus remains on continuing to execute at a high level on a daily basis.
At this point, the business is very well established. Leo believes that how you treat your staff is such an important factor in business. In his words, you're only as good as your staff. To the question, "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates, " Leo answers, "He would ask, where are my ice wine truffles?" Apparently, the Vatican has been spreading the word about those truffles.