For years now, Cathy Harris’ dreams have been filled with visions of fine French pastries and designer cakes.
Two weeks ago, those dreams became reality with the opening of Cassie’s Cottage Cakes & Confections on Louisa Street in Point Edward.
In the new kitchen of Cassie’s Cottage, a sign tells the story: Dream It. Wish It. Do It.
“My dream has always been to have my own boutique pastry shop and reproduce the feeling of being in a boulangerie in Paris,” said Harris who was born and raised in Point Edward.
She is a professionally trained pastry chef and briefly opened a cake store in her hometown in the ‘80s and another one on Michigan Avenue in the ‘90s called The Old Village Pastry Shop.
“It was very successful,” she said. But circumstances changed and she decided to pursue another career path, becoming a social worker and working as a program manager at St. Joseph’s Hospice.
Even so, she held on to her dream.
Once retired, she headed to the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts in Toronto and took several months of classes covering everything from cake design to the business side of operating a small pastry shop.
“I really wanted to get back into what I love doing,” she said. “Sometimes it takes several attempts to get it right … If that means going back to school to learn your craft, then find a way to do it.
“It’s been the hardest thing I’ve done as well as the most rewarding.”
Harris is in the kitchen each morning at 6 a.m. with pastry chef Karissa Anzil, putting in long days to ensure the shelves at Cassie’s Cottage stay filled with sweet treats.
“It’s difficult to know how busy you’re going to be at first,” she said. “I thought Karissa and I could handle the whole thing, but by the second day, I was calling family and friends and asking if they’d like to work here.”
Harris already has four employees.
“I learned so much from having the other businesses before,” she said. “This time I know to ask for help and how important it is to get a great team behind you.”
Cassie’s Cottage Cakes & Confections – Cassie is Cathy’s nickname – specializes in artisanal fine French pastries, such as haute couture eclairs ($2 each) made with real cream and exotic flavours like mango passion fruit and chocolate espresso.
A display case with pecan caramel sticky buns, Danishes, croissants, scones and breakfast buns ($2.50 each) empties quickly most days.
An assortment of cheese, mousse and truffle cakes sell for $33 each. More traditional cakes covered in ganache, come in all kinds of flavours from white or chocolate to coconut cream cheese or banana yogurt. They cost $25. Cupcakes sell for $2.50 each.
Cassie’s Cottage Cakes & Confections is located at 516 Louisa St. in Point Edward. Open Tuesday to Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Call 519-491-6162.
Got an interesting business story? Contact Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or 226-932-0985.