Just over a year ago, the owners of Whistler-born Purebread bakery sold their business to Coho Commissary, the Vancouver-based shared commercial kitchen operator with multiple outposts across the region.
Now, with several months of ownership under their belts - with the ongoing consultation of Purebread founders Mark and Paula Lamming - Coho is growing the brand with two planned new locations. Both new Purebread locations will be in Vancouver - one at UBC and the other in Kitsilano.
However, while the locations have deals inked, it will be some time before guests will be able to pop inside either of the two new Purebreads to enjoy cake slices, cookies, scones, or sandwiches, as both new ventures have significant long lead times - for two very different reasons.
Purebread a 'key anchor tenant' for new mass timber building at UBC
Likely the furthest out from opening will be Purebread's UBC bakeshop and cafe, as it will be going into a new build with an estimated completion date of September 2025. Set at 5955 University Boulevard, the Gateway Building is "a six-storey, 267,000-square-foot mass timber structure designed to stand as an iconic and welcoming space for students, faculty, and visitors," according to a media release issued in October by Coho.
"Purebread will be a key anchor tenant, further symbolizing our commitment to strategic growth and alignment with unique, community-centric developments," added Coho.
The UBC location will be bigger than any existing Purebread, Coho's CEO Andrew Barnes told V.I.A. in a phone interview.
Barnes also explained that the Lammings had been actively pursuing the UBC location, however, once they entered the process of selling to Coho, they "weren't in any position to sign any leases."
A second Purebread in Kitsilano could be open next year
As the Gateway Building is under construction, Purebread will be making renovations to an existing building and business for what will be its second Kitsilano location at 1864 W 4th Ave.
Purebread opened at 2887 W Broadway in October 2018, however, Barnes noted that while "Broadway and 4th are relatively close," the neighbourhoods have a "totally different clientele."
For its second Kits bakery cafe, Purebread will be taking over the space that is currently home to The Pie Hole, which must exit the property no later than March 2024. Barnes said the target is to start work on the West 4th space in March or April of next year, though should The Pie Hole opt to leave earlier, he wouldn't be averse to starting the process sooner. Given the circumstances, a target opening date can't be set just yet.
"The Kits location will be very much in line with existing locations," offering pick-up as well as seating for people to enjoy treats or a meal inside the cafe, Barnes described.
In addition to the West Broadway Purebread, the bakery has two cafe locations in Whistler, its original Vancouver store in Gastown, and its Mount Pleasant bakeshop and production kitchen on 5th at Ontario. Prior to selling the business to Coho, the Lammings also added Purebread locations in Squamish and at YVR Airport in Richmond in 2022.
Purebread plans to grow across B.C. and, ultimately, Canada
Barnes said customer feedback and demand are helping guide Coho in exploring where to establish new Purebread locations.
"Primarily we're looking to be within communities, where people are living," explained Barnes. "We want to be seen as B.C. - and Canada's - community bakery" that offers "warm and welcoming" locations.
That said, Barnes said Coho is in no rush to expand rapidly. On the one hand, there's Coho's commitment to maintaining the integrity of the legacy the Lammings carefully built in their 15 years of ownership, while on the other hand, there are simple scaling-up logistics to be mindful of.
Barnes acknowledged that the Lammings were stewards of tremendous growth for Purebread, opening seven locations and creating a centralized production facility to serve them. The facility can handle the volume of two more locations, but beyond that will take thoughtful expansion and possibly a reconfiguring of how distribution is handled - all of which Barnes said Coho is prepared to do, but not right away.
"We are not trying to grow unreasonably fast," Barnes added. "We are growing slowly to make sure we do it right," he continued. To that end, Coho will continue to consult with the Lammings about further expansion. Once Kitsilano and UBC are open, Barnes indicated the plan would be to wait and see what Purebread could add next.
"This brand has been built to deliver joy to their customers," he explains. "We really want to make sure that the quality remains unaffected."
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