We met Aviv and Michal, the owners of Sidewalk Citizen Bakery, when they first brought their tasty scones to Market Collective in 2009. Everyday that they were with us, they effortlessly sold out of hundreds of scones by noon, leaving each person who was lucky enough to snatch one up feeling satisfied yet wanting more. From their beginnings of delivering bread on bicycle around the city, it has been a pleasure to watch this power duo transform the Calgary bakery scene.
Their little cart of scones at Market Collective was their first retail experience and they were one of the first food vendors to sell at MC. It was easy to see that the pair were going to go far. Their Market Collective fan-base quickly grew, and we were ecstatic when we they set up a permanent shop in Kensington, and then East Village.
And they have gone far. Aviv and Michal have travelled around the world - from Paris to San Francisco to the base of Mount Everest - learning and creating delicious artisanal breads. It’s been a rewarding journey for them and today we wanted to talk a little bit more about their beginnings.
What do you think first sparked your passion for artisan baking?
Aviv: It was a combination of things. I was suppose to start a finance job in Toronto and realized that what I wanted to create something with hands and live my life more simply and be conscious to my community and the environment. I also wanted to stay in Calgary.
I always loved good bread and there was not much available in Calgary. So, I started baking and experimenting with making sourdough breads.
Aviv, you made a pretty drastic change from your background in Biomedical Engineering. How did it feel making the decision to change paths and pursue your passion?
A: It felt exhilarating and scary at the same time. It really felt like the right decision though. The best thing is that you don’t really know the amount of work that lies ahead.
Michal, you are a creative and talented film-maker. How do you think that this helped form and sustain the Sidewalk Citizen community?
Michal: Thanks. :) Part of my job at the bakery is our vision for the future, developing and maintaining our community relationships. We love art and books and are happy to support Calgary’s incredible arts community. One of the initiatives I’m proud of the most, is our monthly dinner cultural salon called “Tzavta” hosting, among others, artists for a conversation about their practice.
Many of your employees are creatives in their own right. How do you feel that this sets the tone for the bakery’s atmosphere?
Certainly. We seem to attract art students and artists which is something that we're proud of and it has an enormous impact on who we are and who comes to eat our food and contributes to a joyful, creative and sometimes a bit chaotic spirit of the bakery. We try and support our artists.
How do you think being at Market Collective in those early days helped you?
Market collective was instrumental to us and was the start of the bakery. It was our first “retail” location. Many of customers stayed since the early days of the market. It was (and still is) an incredible, fun, imaginative and chill environment filled with great art, music and beautiful people. It’s been fantastic see Market Collective evolve and we feel privileged to have been a part of it from early days.
What is your favourite scone that you have created?
That’s a hard one as there were so many flavours.
A: Blueberry, white chocolate
M: Pear and Lavender
What has been your favourite part of this journey?
The people. We were fortunate to have the ardent support of people in Calgary which essentially why we stayed here and never moved to Toronto. We made good friends throughout the years and kept them. We always wanted to be a part of Calgary’s sidewalk as a local business, supporting others and contributing whenever we can. This has been a crazy ride.
Visit Sidewalk Citizen Bakery:
East Village / Simmons Building
618 Confluence Way SE
Open 7 days a week - 8:00 am - 4:00pm
Sunnyside Market in Kensington
338 10 St. NW
Weekdays - 9:00am - 8:00pm
Saturday - 9:00am - 7:00pm
Sunday - 9:00am - 6:00pm
Photos by Diane + Mike Photography