Today Shirley, Hank, and I (Michael) held our first interview with Beyond Bread, an artisan bakery, located at 4th and Alma. Beyond Bread has close connections with the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House and has been in the community for many years. We spoke with Jim Tai who has been the Manager at Beyond Bread for over 2 years.
“You gotta have a passion for what you do. Our businesses is defined by people”
Beyond Bread took off after baker Monroe Webb took over Floran Moldovan’s peasant bread bakery, Transilvania. Ever since, Monroe has transformed the businesses by introducing over 16 varieties of bread, a cafe, and other specialty items such as pizzas. Beyond Bread is constantly tweaking their recipes and procedures based largely on their customers’ preferences.
What makes the bread at Beyond Bread unique is their multi-day process that starts from scratch with the formation of their own unique cultures and fermentation. This is unlike many other commercial bakeries that may produce bread in just 1 day. The bread is fully organic made from locally sourced flour and ingredients which make it even better.
Beyond Bread embraces community through several different ways. This past Thanksgiving Jim made over 100 loaves of bread to give out for donations for the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House. Beyond Bread also engages with the community through local farmers markets, where they sell their bread and connect with other small businesses.
Jim also strengthens the community in store through different events and activities with his team. Just recently, Jim went with one of his pastry chefs on a pastry hop around the city. The staff at Beyond Bread is much more like a family, they support one another and bond outside of work.
“Its not just about the bread. We are a part of our customers lives and they are ours”
Jim also finds connecting with his community of customers extremely fulfilling. He says, “being able to see our customers so happy…is very valuable.” This is exactly how we would describe the atmosphere we experienced just sitting with Jim for half an hour. Jim greeted every customer that walked in the door by name and told countless stories of loyal customers. For instance, often times customers speak with Jim and his staff about how much the bakery and cafe mean to them. These customers have made Beyond Bread a part of their daily routine for several years. Without these loyal customers Beyond Bread would not have such a great reputation.
Jim was a pleasure to interview, he oozed passion for the baking and community that make it all possible. Jim doesn’t have a particular memorable moment, but he finds joy in each time customers recognize Beyond Bread’s contribution to their lives.
Drop by Beyond Bread the next time you’re in the neighbourhood and try some of their daily specials or stick to their famed Country Bread! Their inventory is always changing so don’t be afraid to try something new. Jim and his knowledgeable crew are always willing to help you pick something new or even lend an ear for a quick chat.
We felt Beyond Bread goes beyond baking; it is truly about connecting with and supporting their loyal customers.
Beyond Bread purchases all their ingredients from local small businesses to help support their community. For a list of their partners check out their website!
We were really excited after completing our first interview! We’re looking forward to interviewing many more so be on the lookout for more to come!
Photo Credit: Shirley Lei