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Beautiful New Bakery Brings Boho Vibes to Grimshaw

Northern Dough | Grimshaw, AB


It takes a wild and brave heart to jump into a business venture with both feet. Allie Szmata is living proof that a little passion and hard work can quickly turn an idea into a great opportunity.




“I have been passionate about baking my entire life. I remember my mother always having fresh buns with a big pot of soup bubbling on the stovetop every weekend,” said Szmata.


Szmata was last featured in Move Up Magazine in 2021. At the time, she baked and sold sourdoughs, donuts, pretzels, cinnamon buns and focaccia bread at a pop-up shop called the Baker’s Collab—all while she was a busy mom and worked part time as a unit clerk for the Peace River Emergency Department.


In May, Szmata will open the doors of her new bakery in Grimshaw, but let’s rewind a bit for those who didn’t read about her last time.


Leading up to 2021, when the pandemic was affecting most people’s daily lives, Szmata was craving a creative outlet to pour herself into. During this time, she was baking sweet and savoury treats for her family.


“It was my sister who encouraged me to start sharing beyond just my family and friends,” said Szmata. “I was making beautiful focaccia floral breads, and she insisted I put them on Instagram and offer my services.”


Szmata’s baked goods caught on in the region, and Northern Dough would become a full-time career for Szmata.


From the start, her home-based business was pushed to its limits. While opening a storefront bakery has always been a dream, it was crucial that the timing was right and that her family was ready for such a massive project.


“The freedom of owning your own business is great when you have a family, but if you are not careful the business can quickly consume your entire life,” said Szmata. “I always want to make sure the balance I’m striking puts my kids and my own well-being at the forefront.”


Baking has always been an art form for Szmata. As she started sharing more with others, she started using different techniques and her product selection expanded.


“I’ve always been fascinated by bakeries. Every time I visit somewhere new, I want to see the bakeries and study how they run,” said Szmata. “It’s not just the art of baking that interests me, but it’s also the entrepreneurial aspect and what bakeries provide in the community.”


The Northern Dough bakery will have limited open hours in the beginning, but Szmata hopes to add more hours as her staff is trained and able to operate the bakery in her absence. With two young children, it is important to Szmata to continue to maintain the work-life balance she has always strived for.


Szmata hopes to open her bakery in time for Mother’s Day. And, her mother hopes to help her on the inaugural weekend to share in the excitement of opening her doors to the community.


“My mom is so proud of me, and it will be beautiful to share this occasion with her,” said Szmata. “I wouldn’t be here without her love and support and spending Mother’s Day with her in my beautiful new bakery is going to be amazing for both of us.”


When asked why she chose Grimshaw for the new bakery, Szmata says it was never a consideration to open elsewhere. Her love for the town and the support they have shown her have been a driving force in moving the project forward.


“Grimshaw has been the most wonderful community to live and raise my kids in. The community have always supported me, and I have a great sense of home here,” said Szmata. “There is nowhere else I would want to open my bakery.”


With the help of architect Lévis Lavoie, Szmata transformed the bakery space to maximize the beautiful natural light and provide an open feel. Szmata’s creative design has a bohemian bent with soft neutral colours complete with a fireplace for a warm, hygge feel.


There will be table seating and a couch for people to relax into and enjoy their treats and beverages. Szmata will have a rotating menu with daily options as well as standard items that people can always expect.


“I am obviously a bit nervous, but my heart is fully in this. There is so much potential in this space, and I cannot wait to see it grow,” said Szmata.


The large new kitchen will provide Szmata with the creative freedom to grow her menu. With room to expand, Szmata is excited to lean into her biggest visions for her business.


“I really want the community to enter this space and feel a warm welcome,” said Szmata. “With the commercial kitchen, I plan to offer more options and to have a lot more savoury items as well as a soup and sandwich specials in the near future.”


Northern Dough’s location in Grimshaw is along Highway 2 between Country Corner Furniture and A&W. The planned hours of operation will be 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Friday and 10am to 3pm on Saturdays.


The soft opening is scheduled to the public on Saturday, May 11th. Please contact Allie for orders and questions at northerndough@outlook.com or on the bakery line at 780-332-0087.


 

By Kelly Pippin | Photography by Dani Wearden, Melissa E. Earle and submitted

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