This was originally published in the August issue of the Walleye.
When Julie Einerson first opened the doors to her bakery in the spring of 2013, she didn’t even sell cupcakes. Sweet Escape is literally known around the city for the amazing cupcakes and they weren’t even on the menu. Einarson says, “I had cakes, and cookies, bars, and squares. Cupcakes weren’t even on the radar.”
Constant requests for cupcakes eventually led to daily baking. Chocolate, vanilla, lemon, and red velvet are the regular flavours but coconut, earl grey, and chai make frequent appearances as well. Walking into the bakery, a customer is immediately confronted with a refrigerated display case with the cupcakes front and centre. The cookies are still there, as are the bars and squares, and some of the most beautiful handmade cakes in the city.
Einarson was born in Thunder Bay and moved, with her high school sweetheart, to Winnipeg for the commercial baking program at Red River College. They lived in Winnipeg (working and having babies) for almost ten years, then made the move back to family, friends, and Lake Superior. Her husband worked a regular 9-5 job and Einarson began baking from home, filling custom orders for weddings, birthdays and other events.
By 2012, it was clear something had to change. Einarson was having difficulty meeting demands in her small home kitchen; she wanted to keep baking but she needed a new location. While looking to expand her baking business, for a space, Einarson focused on creating a space to fill a void. She says, “at the time there was a hole in the Thunder Bay market. There were many places to get treats and many places to have coffee but not many places to hang out in the evenings, places with food and coffee and not bars.” Einarson wanted to create a work day that allowed her to get the kids off to school in the mornings and provided a place for evening gatherings and evening study.
Einarson was able to secure a location (corner of Bay and Machar) and was helped by Paro and received a grant from NOHFC. With business help and finance help, Einarson completed renovations and purchased some big pieces of equipment: an oven, a mixer, a refrigerator, a freezer, a refrigerated display case, and a dishwasher.
Every morning, when Einarson comes into work, she makes herself a latte. Then she makes sure the kitchen and equipment is tidy so she can begin the day in a clean and stress-free environment. She tries to do most of the baking in the morning before it gets too hot.
Despite most of the baking being done in the mornings, Sweet Escape always smells like freshly baked cookies and cakes. Combine the welcoming aromas with comfortable chairs and delicious things to eat and drink, it’s clear that Einarson has found the winning combination. Katherine Keeping is available on Thursday evenings for tea leaf and tarot card readings; locally sourced art (from artists like Steve Evo and Duncan Weller) adorns the walls. Add in friendly staff and an accommodating boss, Sweet Escape will keep you coming back again and again.
Thank you Julie, I always enjoy talking with you!