EDMONTON -- A Garneau bakery has opened its doors during the pandemic. 

Eleanor and Laurent—named after the founders of Garneau—opened on April 30, about a month and a half after it was supposed to open, but years after its owner’s dream began.

“We’re feeling the love,” owner Abel Shiferaw said. “We’re very thankful.”

Eleven years ago Shiferaw, who also owns the Sugarbowl Cafe, said he intended to use the bakery’s space to open a boutique wine store, but nearly as soon as the city gave him his permit, it was taken away.

“The neighbourhood didn’t want a ‘liquor store’. It was going to be a boutique wine store,” he said. “Very frustrating. I almost gave up and left town but 11 years later, here I am.”

Now, he’s busy behind the counter, boxing up French pastries, cakes and bread that are mostly gone by early afternoon. 

When customers aren’t waiting in line to order, they’re waiting outside or squatting on the curb or grass to picnic and eat whatever treat they just bought.

“Everything is for takeout,” he said. “We’re not allowing people inside our cafe yet.” 

Shiferaw said the initial plan was to open in mid-March, but as luck would have it, that’s also when the lockdown began. The cafe finally opened at the end of April, and said he’s making sure staff are healthy and they’re always disinfecting surfaces.

Despite being delayed again, customers were not disappointed. 

“I think it’s a glimmer of hope and it’s so lovely that we’re coming out and as you see everybody’s out here excited to be outside,” said Jennifer Klein

Shiferaw said eventually, the vision is to open a bistro on the third floor, but he’s also working on a coffee roaster. 

The owner knows there are many unknowns at the moment, but he appreciates the support he’s seeing from the community. 

When asked about why he didn’t leave 11 years ago, Shiferaw said he’s a resilient person. 

“I think a lot of people in my situation would’ve given up a long time ago. But that’s not who I am,”he said.